Kirch wants more Premiere

Mogul asks authorities for permission to raise stake

BERLIN — Bavarian media magnate Leo Kirch is seeking permission from German antitrust authorities to raise his stake in German pay TV web Premiere from 25% to 50%, the German Federal Cartel Office confirmed Thursday.

Bertelsmann-affiliated CLT-Ufa applied last week for regulatory approval to up its share in Premiere from 37.5% to 50%. As part of a pay TV merger deal reached last summer, Kirch and CLT-Ufa agreed to buy out Canal Plus’ 37.5% stake in Premiere.

Fearing the powerful media groups would monopolize German pay TV, the European Commission banned the proposed merger in late May.

Yet Kirch and CLT-Ufa hope antitrust authorities will nonetheless allow them to share power in Premiere, Germany’s only successful pay TV web. German cartel officials have said they will likely refer the Premiere decision to the EC.

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