Are you ready for your close-up, Mr. Kirch?

It has all the ingredients of a made-for-TV drama. The star is an aging German tycoon, known for his obsessive secrecy, unbridled ambition and friends in high places — one of whom even has a shot at becoming Chancellor. Using a keen understanding of the public taste and an enormous appetite for risk taking, our hero builds a multibillion-dollar media empire, comprising TV stations, newspapers and rights to a library of cinema classics and sports events.

Then comes the twist in the tale: just as the mogul is preparing to turn to the equity markets to...

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