Germany's beleagueredmedia fund managers were afforded a slight ray of hope that they could soon beback in business after the Social Democrats' (SPD) regional election debacle inNorth Rhine-Westphalia at the hands of the Christian Democrats at the weekend.

There was speculation on Monday that plans byGerhard Schroeder to call for an early general election this autumn would putpaid to Finance Minister Hans Eichel's proposals to terminate the old-stylemedia funds in a package of new tax measures.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, governmentspokesman Bela Anda said that the Schroeder administration would stay on coursewith its timetable for the planned legislation including the cutting of thecorporation tax rate. "The Federal Government sees no reason forchanges," Anda said.

However, SPD party chairman Franz Munteferingwas quoted as saying that it was not yet clear what the prospect of a generalelection in the autumn would mean for the future of the planned legislation."At the moment one cannot say what this timetable means," he said.

In an initial comment, fund analyst StefanLoipfinger argued that "a new regulation [on the tax-oriented funds] canprobably not be reckoned with before the Bundestag election in the autumn. Thenew/old government will be concerned with more important things in the fewmonths afterwards up to the end of the year."

He concluded by suggesting that "despitethe political stroke of luck" for the fund managers, "they should at lastrealise that they also must deliver economic results in order to survive in thelong term."