Germany: Death of a media tycoon

15 July 2011
Die Welt

Die Welt, 15 July 2011

Die Welt reports on "the death of a patriarch": Leo Kirch, who died on July 14 at the age of 84. With his passing, the daily remarks that Germany "has lost one of its greatest post-war entrepreneurs, who exerted a transforming influence on the media business in this country". Trained as an economist, Kirch began his career when he bought the German rights to Fellini’s La Strada. Numerous other films followed, including Sissi, Pippi Longstocking and Citizen Kane. From these humble beginnings he succeeded in building a media empire, which grew by leaps and bounds during the expansion of the audio-visual sector in the 1980s. However, in 2002 this growth strategy finally came a cropper when his media group was forced to declare itself insolvent in the biggest bankruptcy in the history of post-war Germany. Closely associated with the Christian Democrats and the former chancellor Helmut Kohl, Leo Kirch also had a stake in the Axel Springer press group, which owns the dailies Bild and Die Welt.