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ARD and ZDF urged to merge

The head of one of Germany’s important regions, Bavaria, is suggesting that the nation’s two publicly-funded broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, should merge.

The proposal comes from Horst Seehofer who is Minister-President of the Bavarian regional government, and also acting head of the German Federal Republic, and head of Germany’s CSU parliamentary party.

As equity analysts at Deutsche Bank suggests in a note to investors on September 30th, a merger – were it to materialise –  would be a “significant positive for P7, RTL and possibly SkyD. The two broadcasters do not sell material advertising, but are very active in buying programming rights. Germany has the largest public financing of TV; standing at around 8 billion pa and broadcast key sporting events, such as the European football championships, World Cup and Olympics. They also broadcast the well-established Sportschau highlights show for Bundesliga which is part of the reason for low pay-TV take-up in Germany. The dropping of this broadcast would be a major positive for SkyD/Sky plc.”

Deutsche Bank adds that with the German elections next year this proposal could be an active campaigning point. “Full privatisation [of ARD-ZDF] is ruled out as politically unfeasible, but a merger would be a good start to cutting the scale of public funding,” stated the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in a comment piece last week.

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