Liberty Media boss John Malone agreed Thursday a long-term alliance with Leo Kirch, head of Kirch Gruppe.

As part of the deal, Liberty intends to purchase a 22% stake in KirchPayTV, which owns cash-haemorrhaging platform Premiere World. The stake is currently in the hands of Rupert Murdoch, Malone’s business partner, who has announced it would be put up for sale.

Liberty recently acquired 60% of Germany’s cable-TV network [WAMN: 10-Sep-01]. Consequently, the latest investment which gives the firm access to programming represents a significant shift in the nation’s media market (the largest in Europe). Nevertheless, having posted an operating loss of DM1.6 billion, Premiere World is not in premier condition.

However, a Kirch representative insisted that the alliance with Liberty consisted of more than the Premiere World stake, also involving a broad partnership in their TV operations. The duo already cooperate in non-digital television, and this could extend to the dTV arena.

Talks between the two were described as “positive and constructive”, with the next step being discussions on how to make content and networks profitable.

News source: Handelsblatt (Germany)