A consortium of Germany's Commerzbank, the Rhineland-based WAZ publishing group and US major Columbia TriStar could be setting its sights on the assets of debt-ridden KirchMedia.

According to news magazine Der Spiegel representatives of the three companies attended a presentation of a preliminary evaluation of KirchMedia by the Roland Berger management consultancy. While KirchMedia managing director Hans-Joachim Ziems would not be drawn on the composition of the consortium, he confirmed that "concrete talks [are] in an advanced stage".

"We need a quick solution in order to be interesting and capable of business again for our partners, investors and staff", Ziems was quoted as saying. "If this doesn't happen soon, the company will be empty and its core value destroyed. That shouldn't be allowed to happen".

Meanwhile, rival news weekly Focus said that the beleaguered KirchGroup's pay-TV unit KirchPayTV is to offload its 50% stakes in the Discovery Channel and the middle-of-the-road music channel Goldstar TV to the partners Discovery Communications and entrepreneur Gottfried Zmeck respectively.

Focus also revealed that Krimitel, Kirch's joint venture with public broadcaster ZDF for detective and crime series, has filed for insolvency.