German media giant Bertelsmann is looking to increase its stake in Five, the UK television network.

The company, which owns Europe's biggest commercial television operator RTL, has appointed US investment bank JP Morgan to investigate the feasibility of the move.

Five is the UK's smallest terrestrial broadcaster and has been in talks with Channel Four about the possibility of a merger. Any such deal would need Government approval.

Bertelsmann has said it is committed to Five but that the broadcaster needed to find a partner in Britain if it was to survive a multi-channel environment.

This fits with the Bertlesmann's long-term strategy of owning channels that ranked first or second in their respective markets.

Observers says JP Morgan will probably carry out a full appraisal of the British broadcasting market to see whether Bertelsmann subsidiary, RTL, should remain a long-term major shareholder holder in Five.

United Business Media holds a minority stake in the channel.

Bertelsmann chief executive Gunter Thielen, indicated recently that the company was in an acquisitive mood with with €2 billion (£1.3 bn;$2.3bn) to spend.

Data sourced from: Times Online; additional content by WARC staff