NewsCorp Buys into German TV, Faces Hostile Alliance Back Home

09 January 2008

NEW YORK: The ever-prowling chieftain of Clan Murdoch has moved into German TV with News Corporation's $421 million (€286.7m; £213.67m) acquisition of a 14.6% cash stake in the nation' biggest pay-TV firm Premiere AG.

Quoth the chieftain: "We see enormous potential for growth in Germany and believe the time is right to invest in its foremost pay-TV business, Premiere."

Once part of entrepreneur Leo Kirch's fallen media empire, which collapsed in 2002, Premiere was eyed at that time by NewsCorp with a view to a rescue bid that failed to materialize.

But the local moneymen believe Murdoch will not be satisfied long-term with NewsCorp's present holding. Says M M Warburg analyst Michael Bahlmann: "I don't think they'll stop at the almost 15% [level]".

He has issued a 'hold' note to Premiere shareholders.

  • Meantime, back in the canyons of Manhattan, two NewsCorp rivals - cable business news network CNBC and the New York Times Company have allied to form a defensive bulwark against NewsCorp's latest invasive moves.

    Both companies are under threat in the wake of the latter's $5bn purchase of Dow Jones and its flagship Wall Street Journal - and the launch last October of the Fox Business News Network.

    Although the Fox cub's average daily audience is a risible 6,300 - so low it fails to meet Nielsen Media Research's minimum measurement criteria, and a mere speck alongside CNBC's 283,000 - few believe this viewing imbalance will last for long.

    On Monday the two media allies announced a content-sharing agreement under which General Electric-owned CNBC will supply video content to In return the latter will make available its business and technology coverage.

    The concordat underscores the way in which the web is filling-in the traditional chasms between media formats, with newspapers now offering video on their websites and TV networks supplying editorial and analytical tools.

    Data sourced from (Germany) and Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff