John Malone's Liberty Media Group is reported to have opened talks with Kirch Group about ways to help the debt laden German giant meet pressing loan repayments.

According to The Financial Times, executives from the companies have discussed options to provide funds to Kirch. This includes the possibility of Liberty buying News Corp's 22% stake in Kirch's loss making pay-TV business, Premiereworld.

At the same time, it is understood that France's TF1 has approached Kirch about buying the German group's 25% stake in Spanish broadcaster Telecinco. It is estimated that the stake is worth Euros 511m (DM1bn).

The moves come at the end of fraught week for Kirch in which major questions have been asked about it liquidity. The group is burdened by high debt levels - thought to amount to up to $8bn (Euros 9bn).

Early in the week one of the group's key lenders, Dresdner Bank, demanded that a loan of $445m (Euros500m) be repaid by the end of the month. Then on Wednesday evening, the bank agreed to extend the loan. Kirch has also been bolstered by a statement from Deutsche Bank that it would not recall its $454m (Euros 511m) loan.

Kirch's woes have also thrown into stark relief the ambitions of John Malone and Rupert Murdoch in the German media industry - Europe's most valuable media market.

After his failure to buy US satellite TV group Direct TV, Murdoch appears to have turned his attention to Germany. Last week, he was reported to be looking at the possibility of buying out Kirch Group. This has since been denied by News Corp.

However, Murdoch is in a position to turn Kirch's woes to his advantage. Under an option agreed at the time of purchase, he has the right to demand that Kirch Group buys back its 22% stake in Kirch pay-TV next year. Worth over $1.78bn (Euros2bn) - and payable in cash - this will be a difficult sum for Kirch to pay - and may risk pushing Kirch into administration. Adding to Kirch's cash woes, the group is also facing a put option by Axel Springer, which has the right in January to sell to Kirch its 11.5% stake in ProSiebenSat.1, Kirch's free-TV unit, for a fixed price of $682m (Euros 767m).

At the same time, Malone - who owns an 18% stake in Murdoch's News Corp - is looking to build on his fledgling German media empire. His deal to buy Deutsche Telecom's cable assets for $4.89bn (Euros5.5bn) is currently with German regulators - but if successful he will control a network that reaches 20 million people.

Malone's conversation's with Kirch should therefore come as little surprise as he attempts to shore up his entry into German media. According to The Financial Times, there is also the possibility of Malone striking a long term deal to buy Kirch owned film and sports rights for its cable networks.