The controlling shareholder of British TV channel Five believes the station must join forces with a rival if it is to survive.

Bertelsmann-owned broadcaster RTL, which holds a 65% stake in the channel (the other 35% belonging to United Business Media), admitted it had talked with state-owned TV firm Channel 4 about merging the two stations [WAMN: 01-Mar-04]. Other options open to Five include a tie-up with Murdoch-controlled satellite giant BSkyB or a deal with cable operator Telewest.

"In the long term, Five is too small," commented RTL ceo Gunter Thielen. "In the next 18 months we will make a decision [on] which alternative we are going to take. What we need is a multichannel strategy."

However, Thielen insisted: "There are no talks at present."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff