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Business

Media Merger Integration Needs Time

Integration by Axel Springer, Europe's leading newspaper publisher, of TV broadcaster ProSiebenSAT.1 will not be completed before the second quarter of 2006, the latter's chief Guillaume de Posch said on Friday. A study of the operation by German competition authorities and the stock market watchdog BaFin will likely extend until December, de Posch told a telephone conference that accompanied the release of quarterly results. Springer announced on August 8 that it would buy a 50.5 percent stake in the TV broadcaster, and was than obliged to make an offer for the outstanding 37.5 percent of ProSiebenSat.1 capital held in the form of non-voting shares quoted on the Frankfurt stock exchange. The total cost of the deal is estimated at 3.57 billion euros ($4.39 bill.), including debt. The planned takeover has drawn fire from critics who say that higher media concentration would freeze out critical voices in Germany. Springer already owns the newspapers Bild and Die Welt, two standard-bearers of the right-wing press, and would also control the free-to-air channels Pro 7 and SAT.1, the rolling news station N24 and film broadcaster Kabel 1, or about 25 percent of the German TV audience.

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