German pay web subject of probe

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office has opened an antitrust inquiry into pay web Premiere, a joint venture between the Kirch Group, France’s Canal Plus and media conglomerate Bertelsmann.

A letter sent by the director of the Berlin-based Federal Cartel Office to all three Premiere partners last week accused the principals of creating a pay TV cartel and gave them six weeks to respond to the accusation.

The basis for the charges is a clause in the 1990 shareholders’ agreement for Premiere that forbids any of the partners to take part in another pay TV venture without the others’ prior consent.

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