Murdoch’s ‘battering ram’

March 31, 2008

murdoch-soccer-ball.jpgRupert Murdoch made his name dominating global entertainment and media by paying big for what he calls the battering ram — exclusive rights to air sports programming in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Asia.

He’s now executing from the same playbook in Germany, Europe’s biggest television market, whose viewers are quite happy not paying for television unless it’s soccer.

Confirming a report in Der Spiegel, a source close the company tells us Murdoch’s News Corp aims to buy up to 23 percent of Germany’s biggest pay television provider Premiere AG to control a majority at the June 12 Premiere annual meeting. He previously held a 19.9 percent interest as of February and had stoked buyout speculation in January after an initial purchase of more than 14 percent in January.

The reason? Premiere stands a chance to land the rights to air Germany’s Bundesliga soccer games, up for auction this year. Murdoch’s deep pockets will come in handy to trounce rival bidders, experts say.

So critical are the rights to air the games to Premiere, the company scrapped its 2008 financial outlook after the auction, originally scheduled for late 2007, was delayed until early 2008.

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