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FEBRUARY 7, 2001

Bertelsmann increases stake in F1 broadcaster

THE German media company Bertelsmann has become Europe's biggest free-over-air TV company by acquiring an extra 30% in the RTL company, which holds the terrestrial TV rights for Formula 1 in Germany. The shares were acquired from Albert Frere's Groupe Bruxelles Lambert in exchange for 25% of Bertelsmann and give the company 67% of RTL. It seems that the intention now is for the group to be floated in order to continue its battle with Time Warner and Disney to be the world's biggest media company.

The RTL group controls 22 television and 18 radio stations in 11 different countries and the sale of Frere's shares will allow the company to move ahead with a program of fully integrating its TV, Internet, e-commerce, music, publishing and digital services.

Bertelsmann's chief rival in Germany is Kirch which currently holds the digital rights to F1 in Germany.