Deutsche Telekom aiming to replace Sky

Obermann's goal is 5 mil German customers by 2015

BERLIN -- Telco giant Deutsche Telekom has taken aim at Rupert Murdoch's struggling Germany pay TV operation Sky Deutschland, saying Telekom's near-term goal is to replace Sky as Germany's top pay TV company.

Telekom boss Rene Obermann said Wednesday that he planned to knock out Sky by 2015. Obermann's target by then is 5 million German customers for Telekom's IPTV offerings.

To compare, Sky has just 2.47 million direct customers in Germany. By the company's own admission, Sky needs at least 2.8 million-3 million subscribers to be profitable. News Corp. is Sky's largest shareholder with a 45.42% stake in the company. Murdoch has poured money into Sky but so far hasn't seen a turnaround.

Obermann said Wednesday that he plans to invest about €10 billion ($14 billion) over the next three years in Germany, largely by upgrading Telekom's fiber-optic networks and investing in new mobile communications technologies. Much of this will go to promoting Telekom's IPTV service as an alternative to Sky.

For the past few months, Telekom has been needling Sky with attack ads featuring local television personality Sky du Mont. The spots, produced by sitcom specialists Ulmen TV, play on the actor's first name to mock Sky Deutschland without breaking German regulations that forbid companies from criticizing competitors by name.