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Business Briefs

Brussels set to Probe German state broadcasters; Germans can now call locally for less; Pharmaceuticals giant Bayer posts large gains.


Commerical TV stations say ZDF and sister station ARD are abusing their public service remit

Brussels set to Probe German state Broadcasters

European regulators are to investigate German state broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, after private broadcasters complained that the state-owned television groups had breached competition law. Germany's federation of private broadcasters and telecommunications companies (VPRT) said ZDF and ARD had paid for their commercial online projects with money received from license fee payments and were also hiding state aid. Both broadcasters air advertising, a practice which the VPRT said separately that they would campaign to ban. It also said it would lobby for a reduction in the license fee which funds public broadcasting in Germany.

I'll Call You…For Less

One of the German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom's last areas of monopoly crumbled today as special dialing prefixes came into use for the first time that enable consumers calling locally to bypass Deutsche Telekom lines and receive discounted rates. The discount dialing prefixes have been in use for long-distance calls since 1998.

Bayer Posts Encouraging Gain

After disappointing results in 2002, pharmaceuticals giant, Bayer announced that revenues were up in the first three months of 2003 on Friday. Operating profits rose 15 percent to €7.3 million ($8 million), a result Bayer's Chairman of the Board, Werner Wenning, said was "very encouraging." Bayer will however, cut 3,600 jobs over the coming months in a bid to boost the company's earnings further. The firm plans to cut around 11,400 jobs worldwide by the end of 2005 -- 2,000 of which will be in Germany.