Germany preps for broadband Internet

Media giants like Bertelsmann, Kirch, RTL launch new media arms

BERLIN – German broadcasters are quickly gearing up their Internet plans as the media landscape continues to consolidate.

Both of Germany’s leading media players, Kirch Group and Bertelsmann, recently unveiled big-buck Web plans.

Earlier this year, RTL launched RTL New Media and earmarked DM500 million ($236 million) to develop its online activities.

Up and running already is the Bertelsmann Broadband Group, which is developing Web TV and interactive programming, starting with a pilot project in Berlin.

Kirch followed this summer with the announcement of a new department, Kirch New Media, to launch next year, with financial backing of several hundred million marks. Netlet TM3 will play a role in those plans.

These announcements followed a wave of consolidation in the television sector that has left more of the market in fewer hands than ever.

In July, Kirch’s stations Sat.1, ProSieben, Kabel.1 and news channel N24 recorded a 25% total market share. RTL Group hit 24% through its stakes in RTL, Vox, RTL2 and Super RTL.

And with news channel N-TV and TM3 on the block, that hold is likely to increase further.

But most broadcasters’ Internet plans hinge on the upgrading of broadband cable to make it fast enough to allow full Internet broadcasts. With cable operators realizing there is more money in TV broadcasts than on the Web, those plans could be a while.

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