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Top European newspaper group invests in internet television

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday November 8, 2006

Berlin- Springer, the major European newspaper group based in Germany, said Wednesday it was setting up a digital television unit that would mainly distribute content via the internet. The move follows growing commercial interest in North America in the sort of video-clips that have made the YouTube website a huge success.

Springer chief executive Mathias Doepfner said the unit would produce digital content, but consideration was also being given to developing digital TV channels.

This was an attractive alternative to Springer's unsuccessful effort to acquire one of Germany's big-four television networks, ProSiebenSat.1, from US-based investor Haim Saban. That takeover was blocked at the start of this year by German regulators.

He called the foundation of the new unit, Axel Springer Digital TV (ASDTV), an "experimental investment" and a test bed for new ideas.

Klaus Ebert, 53, an executive from Germany's other main commercial broadcaster, RTL, who launched Croatian TV service RTL Televizija in 2004, is to head the new operation.

In Berlin, Doepfner said he would announce more details next summer after a team had been recruited.

Germany has a strict licensing system for television broadcasters, but there are no rules to restrict video via the internet. RTL's all- news television channel is distributed free on the internet 24 hours a day and internet service companies offer, for a fee, to feed existing television channels to homes and offices via the internet.

Springer owns Germany's biggest-selling daily newspaper, Bild, and also owns newspapers in eastern Europe.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency