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Inside move: Bids due for Kirch Group

Decision will create path for the future of German TV

It’s come down to this. The creditors of Germany’s bankrupt Kirch Group will roll up their sleeves today to consider bids for the main pieces of the former media empire owned by Leo Kirch.

What’s up for sale are Kirch’s stake in terrestrial station ProSiebenSat1, the largest film and TV program library on the Continent and some soccer rights.

Among those making bids will be a consortium led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, two companies that have been involved with Kirch off and on for years but have themselves never partnered on such an ambitious undertaking.

Creditors meeting in bankruptcy court in Munich will probably settle on just a handful of bids for further review.

What they decide will set the framework for the future of the German TV biz, the most important market outside the U.S.

Other consortia likely to make the first cut today include Columbia TriStar — one of the American clients of the Kirch Group that’s owed several hundred million dollars by the Teutonic conglom. Its partners in the bid are France’s leading network TF1 and Germany’s CommerzBank.

A third consortium is made up of top Teutonic publishers that have long-standing business relationships with Kirch — Springer, Bauer and Spiegel.

Other possible bidders include Viacom, arguably owed the most money of any Hollywood studio by Kirch, and TV producer-distributor Haim Saban, who cashed out of a deal with Disney last year and has money to burn.

It’s unclear whether the other Hollywood majors — all of whom had program output deals with the Kirch Group and are owed mucho moolah — will be bidding.

Total pricetag on the Kirch auction should be in the $2.5 billion to $3.2 billion range.

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