Satcaster sale slowed

KEK refuses to negotiate the paper's key points

The approval process for Axel Springer’s takeover of Haim Saban’s ProSiebenSat.1 broadcasting group is threatening to slow down, as the tone between local media organizations becomes rougher.

Germany’s Commission on Concentration in the Media (KEK) confirmed Friday the demands it had posted to Springer just before Christmas, underlining that it refuses to negotiate the paper’s key points. Springer and KEK earlier in December had agreed on the establishment of a media advisory board for ProSiebenSat.1’s group’s programming. According to KEK’s proposal, however, the board would have a say in the group’s business plans and budgets. On Friday, KEK reiterated its idea of the board’s influence on a potential restructuring of programming schemes, content, and organization, with all its financial consequences.

KEK thus reacted to a comment from the association of commercial broadcasters, VPRT, which had recommended Springer to defiantly oppose KEK’s claims. VPRT’s topper Juergen Doetz called the proposals “absurd” ideas “from the vaults of the primal days of commercial broadcasting,” which “could be a serious threat for the entire commercial media industry”.

For its proposals, the national body KEK cannot necessarily count on the backing of the 15 state media authorities, two of which already have openly criticized KEK’s position.

Springer, Germany’s largest print publishing house, has let on that it has no intention of giving in to KEK’s claims in their present form, but said that it won’t announce an official reaction until Jan. 5. “We can only repeat that we are open for the establishment of a board, but we can not hand over financial control,” a Springer spokeswoman was quoted in local wire services.

Meanwhile, ProSiebenSat.1 group reports that it has increased its market share, and reached its best mark since 2000. According to preliminary figures, the market share combined by the group’s for channels in the 14 to 49 demo was 30.3%, up from 29.4% in 2004. Its main webs, Sat.1 and Pro Sieben, reached 12.3% and 11.7%, respectively. Pro Sieben is the group’s major buyer for new U.S. serial fare, such as “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives.”

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