Private webs up in arms

BERLIN — Germany’s private stations are up in arms over pubcaster ZDF’s plans to take out a loan for up to DM500 million ($275 million) to secure future rights for prominent soccer tournaments.

Juergen Doetz, president of the VPRT, the umbrella organization for private stations, has written a letter of protest to politicians complaining that the move would be unacceptable.

Private webs fear such a loan could result in an increase in the license fees paid to the pubcasters, or, worse, a law allowing ARD and ZDF to advertise after 8 p.m., which is currently forbidden. As soccer is mostly broadcast after 8 p.m., the pubcasters currently can’t reap the coin through advertising.

Setting off the private webs further, Kurt Beck, the premiere of Rhineland-Palatinate, has indicated he would be in favor of raising the license fees in the year 2000 if ZDF couldn’t cover the loan itself.

Soccer often outranks the best-rated entertainment programs in Germany, with ratings during the recent World Cup finals reaching more than 82% of viewers.

Soccer broadcasts and marketing have been a bone of contention the past year because media mogul Leo Kirch and sports agency Sporis hold the rights to the World Cup tournaments in 2002 and 2006.

A protection list was drawn up earlier this year by Germany’s 16 states securing live broadcasts of important games, and those featuring the German team, for free TV.

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