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EC greenlights BSkyB, Premiere World deal

Move signals digital TV expansion

BERLIN — The European Commission has OK’d pay TV giant BSkyB to take a 24% stake in the German Kirch Group’s pay TV platform Premiere World.

“This decision represents an important signal for digital television in Germany,” said Dieter Hahn, vice chairman of the Kirch Group. “Now all the necessary foundations have been laid for the successful expansion of digital pay TV and multimedia on the basis of an open platform.” The deal includes a share swap that gives Kirch a 4.3% stake in BSkyB.

The companies made no mention of conditions under which the greenlight was given. But reports this week suggested that restrictions on joint acquisitions and insider trading were imposed, as well as demands that the platform be kept open to third parties.

The Kirch Group and BSkyB could not be reached for comment.

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