Murdoch jumps into DT cable arms race

Company expects to sell one system by year's end

EDINBURGH — Rupert Murdoch is reportedly considering buying Deutsche Telekom’s cable television systems, a deal that could be worth as much as $16 billion and would give News Corp. a major foothold in continental Europe that it has long been seeking.

The deadline for bids for DT’s nine cable systems was Aug. 20, and at least five companies made offers. Many analysts said Murdoch is interested, and in total there could be more than 12 companies in the running.

Year’s end move

DT is reviewing the bids but has not given a timetable other than to say that it expects to sell at least one system by the end of the year.

Ulrich Lissek, the director of Deutsche Telekom’s press office, declined to comment over the weekend, telling Daily Variety it was company policy not to comment on the bids.

He said DT was committed to selling the systems, which have been divided into nine regional companies, to partners that had a good plan for the systems. The multisystem operator reaches 18 million households.

Murdoch picked up two-thirds of the German TV channel tm3 last fall and acquired the rights to European Champions League soccer for four years in the German market. News Corp. also has a 49.9% stake in Vox, another Teutonic channel.

— Liza Foreman in Berlin contributed to this report.

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