EU Rejects Kirch-Bertelsmann Deal
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The 20-member European Union Commission Wednesday unanimously rejected a proposed digital television venture between Germany’s Kirch Group and Bertelsmann AG.
EU Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert said Bertelsmann rejected a compromise proposal that the Commission had worked out with Kirch and with Deutsche Telekom, which is also involved with the merger.
Furthermore, Van Miert said the Commission denied a request from Kirch for another day to try to reach a solution with Bertelsmann.
``We’ve got to ensure that the (digital TV) market remains an open market,″ Van Miert said.
While the official deadline for a decision on the venture was June 3, Van Miert said the Commission members did not see the point of delaying a decision because ``Bertelsmann clearly confirmed in writing this morning that there was no possibility″ of a compromise.
Van Miert said he took ``extraordinary steps″ in the past few days to try to resolve issues raised by the proposed venture. But he said a verbal proposal agreed by Kirch and Telekom was ``totally refused by Bertelsmann.″
The competition chief said the Commission only would have accepted a compromise that guaranteed the potential for future competition in the German digital TV market ``even if in the immediate period it could lead to a monopoly.″
Van Miert declined to speculate on how the decision might affect the development of digital TV in Germany and in the 15-nation EU.
``If the deal doesn’t go ahead, that opens up other possibilities,″ he said.