Euro b'caster may beat out Kirch for TW outlet

BERLIN — Looking as if it might beat out main rival Kirch in acquiring a highly sought-after station, Europe’s biggest broadcaster CLT/Ufa is reportedly eyeing the Time Warner-controlled German news netlet N-TV.

CLT/Ufa is in talks with the Berlin-based N-TV as well as Cologne’s adult musicvid channel Onyx for stakes in both broadcasters, according to German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung.

CLT/Ufa officially denied that negotiations were under way, however, and refused to comment on whether it was interested in the channels.

Time Warner has been expected to sell off its shares in N-TV, which has been a costly venture despite breaking even in 1998. Estimates put Time Warner’s initial losses at around $200 million. Some local analysts had been predicting a takeover of the station by the Kirch-controlled ProSieben, which launched its own mini news channel N24 in January.

Newly merged

CLT/Ufa merged with the U.K.’s Pearson TV last month to form the continental broadcasting and production giant that will likely be called Group RTL. The company already includes RTL, RTL 2, Super RTL and Vox in its lineup, offering children’s programming and adult-aimed programming such as popular Formula One racing, the controversial “Big Brother” and the German version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

N-TV was launched in 1992 and not only benefited from, but also fueled, Germany’s stock market craze in the 1990s. The web recorded revenues of DM 153 million ($80 million) last year and profits of $9 million.

Onyx is owned by French TV production outfit Groupe AB. The channel is only received in 10,000 cabled households but has been looking to expand into the Internet.

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