Kirch says Murdoch in

Although mogul extends commitment to channel, he still can pull out

LONDON — The Kirch Group said Friday that it hasn’t had any indications from media mogul Rupert Murdoch that he intended to pull out of its ailing pay TV venture Premiere World.

Murdoch, who holds a 22% stake in Premiere World parent company Kirch Pay TV, reportedly said at an Adelaide press conference last week that he may opt to force Kirch to buy back the stake.

Murdoch originally signed a deal that would enable him to pull out of the agreement on Jan. 01 if the channel is more than 20% below its projected 3.5 million subscriber count at that time. Premiere currently has about 2.3 million subs. Murdoch recently chose to extend his commitment to the channel for another year. He still has the right to pull out.

Kirch, which is under extreme financial pressure, would have to fork out some DM3 billion ($1.39 billion) in the event that Murdoch chooses to take advantage of the option.

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