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EC OKs BSkyB stake in Kirch

Ruling key to European media consolidation policy

BRUSSELS — The European Commission’s competition arm has cleared U.K. satcaster BSkyB’s purchase of a 24% stake in German pay TV company KirchPayTV.

The EC said concessions made by the two companies had addressed its original fears that the deal would lead to a strengthening of Kirch’s dominance of German pay TV and to an extension of that dominance into the nascent market for interactive television.

The two companies made commitments to allow other digital broadcasters to set up their own platforms as well as to run on Kirch’s platform. They also agreed that other digital broadcasters should enjoy access to Kirch’s pay TV services and should be allowed to produce set-top decoders that use Kirch’s access system.

How the EC would rule on the case had been seen as a key indication of its policy toward European media consolidation. The favorable ruling may now trigger a host of other cross-border media partnerships that previously would have faced a total veto from the EC.

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