Ad practices draw RTL II ire

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MUNICH -- A coalition of shareholders in German niche commercial broadcaster RTL II, which programs everything from old "A-Team" re-runs to the 10-part war drama "Band of Brothers," is reportedly considering suing parent company RTL Group for unfair advertising practices.

The suit, first reported in the respected German newsweekly Der Spiegel, would claim up to 60 million euros ($87.5 million) in damages resulting from RTL's ad-marketing subsidiary IP Deutschland's share-of-advertising rebate policy -- which rewards big advertising contracts with cut rates -- a policy with which the smaller broadcaster could not compete.

IP Deutschland settled a German cartel watchdog investigation into the practice last year by paying a 120 million euros ($175 million) fine. SevenOne Media, the ProSiebenSat.1 ad marketer also under investigation, paid 96 million euros ($140 million).

Herbert Kloiber, CEO of Tele-Muenchen Group, which along with publishers Burda Verlag and Heinrich Bauer Verlag owns a total of 64.1% of RTL II compared with RTL Group's 35.9% stake, said in an e-mail interview that contrary to the Spiegel report, TMG was not considering filing suit -- only RTL II.

An RTL II spokeswoman had no comment, and ProSieben did not return requests for comment before press time.

Kloiber stated publicly that he was considering taking legal action against IP Deutschland at the Munich Media Days last November.

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