German Minister attacks Kirch rescue plans

GERMANY's Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin is warning that allowing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's media empire to gain an important voice in the German media through the Kirch group would be a mistake for Germany.

"You can see in Italy the kind of damage a politician like Berlusconi can do with such power," Daeubler-Gmelin commented in Tagesspiegel. "I think concentrating electronic media with a few individuals is a threat to every democracy."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has also said that he is worried about foreign influence in the German press of Kirch is rescued by Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch.

There is to be another meeting of those trying to rescue Kirch on Monday in Los Angeles. The company needs $150m to keep the company alive but the banks involved are fighting with one another. The Financial Times reported that one person who attended a meeting on Thursday referred to some of the bankers as "moronic hicks".

The various groups have yet to get Leo Kirch to agree to the rescue package being discussed.

Although Kirch controls the SLEC company the actual running of the F1 business remains in the hands of Bernie Ecclestone thanks to what is believed to be a shareholders' agreement which runs until the end of 2005. Until then it does not really matter who owns the business as Bernie still runs it.

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