Weeks after shocking the world with its stunning purchase of Lucasfilm, the Walt Disney Company has struck again, as Germany's media watchdogs have approved the company's purchase of German TV broadcaster Das Vierte.
The deal, first announced in September, sees Disney acquiring the company from Russian media executive Dmitry Lesnevsky for an unknown amount of money. Das Vierte is a free-TV channel and was formerly owned by NBCUniversal. It is a tiny network in Germany, with a microscopic 0.2 percent share of the audience. Can Disney change that?
Disney already owns 50 percent of German kids network Super RTL and, with Herbert Kloiber's Tele-Munchen Group, control 31.5 percent of free TV channel RTL II. It also operates pay channels in Germany, with the Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD and Disney Cinemagic being available in the country. It also owns an indirect stake in Germany's A+E Networks channel.
This sale will make Das Vierte the first free-TV channel in Germany that Disney has complete ownership over. Disney has kept its plans for the channel quiet - some believe it will be used to launch a localized version of ESPN; others speculate that Disney will sell its part of Super RTL and turn Das Vierte into a family entertainment network.