Murdoch-chaired UK satellite-TV giant BSkyB has dismissed rumours that it may seek a higher stake in Kirch Gruppe’s ailing Premiere World pay-TV platform as “complete nonsense”.

In yet more bad news for Germany’s Kirch, the British group reaffirmed its intention to exercise an option in October forcing the buyback of its 22% stake in Premiere for around €1.7 billion ($1.46bn; £1bn) – a price Kirch is unlikely to be able to pay.

The announcement follows a meeting of Premiere’s supervisory board and investors on Tuesday to discuss the outline of a radical restructuring plan. The platform’s chief executive Georg Kofler has until Easter to complete the scheme’s framework.

However, Kirch’s woes do not stop with Premiere World. The group’s ProSiebenSat.1 broadcast unit announced Tuesday that net earnings for 2001 tumbled 27% from the year before to €68 million, pulled down by a €77m loss at the Sat 1 satellite channel.

ProSieben chief executive Urs Rohner warned that advertising would remain slow in 2002, with no upturn expected before the second half. The group has already suffered from the ad slump, posting a fall in revenues to €1.961bn last year from €2.086bn in 2000.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); Wall Street Journal; Handelsblatt (Germany); additional content by WARC staff