Media rival protests over Springer takeover
8 August 2005
MUNICH – A media rival said Sunday it would protest to Germany’s Cartel Office against news publisher Axel Springer’s plan to take over Germany’s top commercial broadcaster, ProSiebenSat.1.
Michael Grabner, deputy CEO of Holtzbrinck, told the Munich newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, that the purchase of shares from U.S. media mogul Haim Saban would create “a media big power, both journalistically and on the advertising market”.
He said Holtzbrinck would insist the Cartel Office applied the same tough standards that earlier stymied a bid by Holtzbrinck to take over a capital-city newspaper, the Berliner Zeitung.
However a spokeswoman for Springer, which publishes Germany’s biggest-selling daily, Bild, said her company expected to prevail, despite an announcement by Cartel Office chief Ulf Boege of a thorough inquiry into the effects on TV advertising rates.
The merger was a “cross-media tie-in that we have not seen before in Germany on this scale”, Boege said.
Friede Springer, majority shareholder of Springer and widow of its founder Axel Springer, rejected claims that the new group would dominate opinion.
“My only thought is to secure the future of my husband’s publishing house,” she was quoted as saying Sunday in the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “We need a second string in our bow. I am attached to this publisher. It is my life.”
Subject: German news