Springer's ProSieben Takeover to be Probed

10 August 2005

The proposed takeover of Germany's largest TV broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 by newspaper publisher Axel Springer [WAMN: 08-Aug-05] has met with mixed reactions.

The news was welcomed by Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber of the Christian Social Union as an "obvious strengthening of the media sector in Germany," while another, more vocal, camp denounced the merger's likely effects on German media diversity.

Social Democratic Party vice-president Ludwig Stiegler warned of "a worrisome concentration of influence in one conservative publishing house", and his words were echoed by political colleague Monika Griefahn, president of the parliamentary committee on culture and media.

Griefahn is concerned that the Springer-ProSieben merger could create a media superpower and recommends the establishment of advisory boards to regulate commercial TV and radio stations.

Springer rival Michael Grabner, vice-president of Holtzbrinck publishing group, plans to take his concerns one step further.

He vows to ensure Germany's antitrust authorities apply the same tough standards that thwarted Holtzbrinck's attempted acquisition last year of the capital-city newspapers the Zeitung and Kurier.

And it seems Cartel Office president Ulf Boege will not disappoint Grabner. The merger authority said it will thoroughly investigate the potential impact of the takeover on the media market.

Springer, meanwhile, remains untroubled. "We are certain that we have good arguments for dispelling all concerns" retorted a spokesman.

Data sourced from Deutsche Welle (Germany); additional content by WARC staff