Kirch, CLT move in

New concessions offered for German alliance

BERLIN — After months of fruitless negotiations with European competition commissioners, media groups Kirch and Bertelsmann-affiliated CLT-Ufa may be a step closer to gaining approval of their German digital pay TV alliance.

Antitrust authorities in Brussels said on Tuesday that media mogul Leo Kirch and Bertelsmann board member Michael Dornemann had presented a new set of concessions Monday.

Details unclear

No details of the proposals were disclosed, but they appear to involve programming rights. Kirch, who holds most of the choice pay TV output deals with the Hollywood majors, recently offered to forfeit 25% of those rights to potential competitors.

The partners also agreed last week to allow additional companies to take stakes in BetaResearch, the company responsible for developing the technology for Kirch’s D-Box set-top digital decoder.

Final decision due

But these initial concessions failed to satisfy the commission. Together with merger advisers from the 15 European Union states, commission authorities issued a preliminary rejection of the alliance May 6. A final decision on the merger is expected by June 3.

Former competitors Kirch and CLT-Ufa agreed last summer to merge their digital pay TV activities. The commission fears that the media giants will use their combined power to monopolize German pay TV.