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Berlin's Publishing Wars Continue

The Bauer and Holtzbrinck publishing houses continuing to tussle over Berlin's most popular dailies, the Berliner Zeitung and Der Tagesspiegel. On Monday, economics minister Wolfgang Clement abruptly suspended a meeting at the Federal Economics Ministry to consider Holtzbrinck's application for dispensation after several hours of arguments between representatives of Holtzbrinck, Bauer und Springer, which also owns several of Germany's leading publications. Holtzbrinck's efforts to acquire Gruner + Jahr -- which already owns three of the capital's leading publications, including Berliner Zeitung, were interrupted in December 2002, when the Federal Cartel Office outlawed the plan, saying it would give Stuttgart-based Holtzbrinck a too-dominant position within Berlin's publishing world. Holtzbrinck promptly turned to Minister Clement, requesting he over-rule the decision with a ministerial concession. Clement is expected to decide whether to grant Holtzbrinck the dispensation in the coming weeks.