Munich-based home shopping network HOT Networks is in talks to acquire a majority stake in German broadcaster TM3, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Kirch Media was previously seen as a front-runner to buy the channel which has less than a 3% share of the German market.

HOT is part-owned by US-based Home Shopping Network (HSN) which has a 46.66% stake while HOT chairman Georg Kofler and Thomas Kirch, son of media baron Leo Kirch, each hold 26.66%. The deal would be a first move towards HOT's stated ambition of creating a group of stations under the HOT brand, and expanding beyond the area of home shopping.

"Of course we will create new concepts for programming, to allow TM3 to establish a distinctive profile on the German television market," Kofler said in a statement, adding that the channel will continue to operate within the limits of its current broadcasting licence, which is for entertainment.

TM3 has been rumoured to be on the auction block ever since Murdoch became sole owner after buying 34% of the channel from TeleMuenchen's managing director Herbert Kloiber last April.

Kirch previously denied interest in the channel but has now admitted that it is also in talks to acquire a stake in TM3. Several informal ties exist between HOT and Kirch. Apart from the father-son relationship between Leo and Thomas Kirch, Kofler is a former managing director of Kirch-owned station Pro7.