Herbert Kloiber's Tele Muenchen Group (TMG) and digital and interactive TV service company GET ON AIR are planning an ambitious 2002 launch of three German digital pay-TV channels to compete with Leo Kirch's high-profile Premiere World.

The partners' timetables sees cartoon channel Toongate going on air in March, with action channel Actiongate following in June and the home and garden channel Homegate in the autumn.

However, Kloiber's ambitions to encroach on Kirch's German pay-TV monopoly, is put somewhat into perspective by the revelation that, in comparison to Kirch's investment of literally billions in his Premiere World venture, Kloiber has budgeted Euros 5m for the establishment, development and launch of the three channels for, and is anticipating total costs of Euros 15m before the channels start making a profit.

Moreover, with the existence of Super RTL (owned by Bertelsmann and Disney), in the German TV market - the most popular channel with children, as well as the Kinderkanal (ARD-ZDF children's channel), cartoon fanatics are not lacking in plenty of (free) choice.

Toongate, which received an eight year broadcasting license from the Bavarian media regulator BLM in November, will initially broadcast such series as Ninja Turtles, Popeye, Flipper and The Little Vampire between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.. An exclusive programme agreement with TMG will guarantee a continuous flow of programming for the subscription channel.

Meanwhile, Actiongate will start in mid-June with a schedule of action series and features such as Tomb Raider, Terminator II, Total Recall, Basic Instinct and Nash Bridges, while the launch for the service and lifestyle channel Homegate has been pencilled in for September 2002. TMG has applied for a license from BLM for Homegate and expects to receive notification by early next year.