Kirch files suit on blocked TV merger

Group claims EU review unfair

BERLIN — The Munich-based Kirch Group has filed suit against the European Commission’s ban of its proposed digital pay TV merger with Bertelsmann-affiliated CLT-UFA.

“We believe the Commission did not have sufficient information to reach a balanced decision,” a Kirch Group rep told Daily Variety. Kirch lodged the complaint Friday with the European Court in Luxembourg.

In a lengthy petition, Kirch’s lawyers charged European competition commissioner Karel van Miert with having made up his mind to veto the merger before the start of the probe, thereby denying the partners an objective review of their case. The attorneys also accused the EC of overstepping its authority by attempting to impose new market structures with its decision.

CLT-UFA has yet to announce whether it will join the Kirch Group in its suit against the Commission. Since the EC banned the alliance in May, Kirch and CLT-UFA have asked German antitrust officials to allow them to up their stakes in leading German pay TV web Premiere to 50% each.

As part of the vetoed merger plan, the partners agreed to share power in the web after buying out Canal Plus’ share. Kirch currently holds 25% of Premiere, while CLT-UFA has a 37.5% stake.

But Van Miert warned CLT-UFA last week against attempting to bypass the Commission’s ban of the merger by increasing its stake in Premiere.

In an interview with German weekly Focus, Bertelsmann board member Michael Dornemann suggested that CLT-UFA may be open to taking on media mogul Rupert Murdoch as a partner in Premiere.

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety

Loading