BERLIN — German media regulators have formally rejected publisher Axel Springer’s $5 billion bid to buy the ProSiebenSat 1 TV group.
Ruling by the Commission on Concentration in the Media (KEK) doesn’t necessarily kill the deal, which could be greenlit if Springer takes a partner to split some assets.
German news reports on Tuesday tagged NBC Universal as a potential partner.
An NBC U TV spokesman said there is no truth to the rumor.
German papers also named SBS Broadcasting and France’s TF1 as possible allies.
Ruling also could be overturned by a three-fourths majority of Germany’s 15 state media regulators. Heads of the state orgs meet Friday.
KEK called Springer’s bid “not approvable,” since ProSiebenSat 1’s strong position in the commercial TV market plus Springer’s market-leading print assets would give the company undue influence over public opinion.
Media regulator asked that Springer set up an oversight committee that would control programming for one of ProSiebenSat 1’s two main channels, a condition Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner has rejected.
Doepfner acknowledged Tuesday the deal is unlikely to go through.
“We’ll take it like a good sport and try our luck in digital markets and abroad,” he said.
He has until Thursday to respond to the antitrust watchdog, and could still fight the ruling in court or seek a waiver from Germany’s economics minister.