German court nixes suit vs. SAT 1

Media mogul Leo Kirch has won a major round against media authorities trying to limit his broadcasting power.

A Dusseldorf court Friday overturned a suit lodged by the Nordrhein-Westfalen media regulatory bureau (LfR) that threatened to throw private web SAT 1 off that state’s terrestrial frequencies.

Nordrhein-Westfalen is Germany’s most densely populated area, with 4 million viewers.

The LfR, in an antitrust suit, said it would block SAT 1 from airing in the region if Kirch and the Axel Springer Verlag did not divest their holdings in the web to below 50%. Because Kirch is a major shareholder in Springer, there were questions as to how much influence Kirch himself held over SAT 1, and other stations.

Another Kirch/Springer-backed station, sport niche web DSF, is facing its own antitrust action in Berlin and Brandenburg, where the station is blocked from the airwaves. According to a SAT 1 statement, the Dusseldorf decision bodes well for an outcome favorable to that web.

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