Kinowelt eyeing stake in mini-web tm3

German co. to buy half of News Corp.'s shares

BERLIN — German media player Kinowelt Medien is in talks to take a 33% stake in mini-web tm3, according to a report in Tuesday’s issue of German daily Die Welt.

The company would buy half of the 66% stake currently held by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., with the other half going to pan-Euro broadcaster-cabler UPC/SBS.

Local entrepreneur Herbert Kloiber, who owns the remaining stake in the channel, told the paper that there were no discussions taking place and played down a report that tm3 and Kinowelt would jointly acquire the rights to the German soccer league.

The report also said that Kinowelt would launch its planned TV station via the Internet in 2001.

A stake in tm3 for Kinowelt would be a good move in view of the $300 million programming package acquired from Warner Brothers last year.

Deal would allow Kinowelt to bypass local players the Kirch Group and Bertelsmann, which control the lion’s share of the German TV market, and give it another alternative to selling on the rights to pubcasters.

On heels of soccer

The pact would boost the fortunes of mini-channel tm3 even further after its coup of acquiring European Champions League soccer rights last year.

And Kloiber-Kinowelt cooperation would make sense in the Bertelsmann/Kirch-dominated local market. The companies run rival film distrib arms.

Kinowelt could not be reached for comment.

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