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ARD, ZDF score soccer rights

Pubcasters pay $119 mil to Kirch Group

BERLIN — German pubcasters ARD and ZDF have agreed to buy rights to the 2002 World Cup soccer games from the Kirch Group for the record sum of DM250 million ($119 million).

While ZDF was quick to rubber-stamp the deal, ARD’s 10 regional broadcasters had to vote on the purchase. Four of the ARD webs abstained, including Berlin’s SFB and northern Germany’s NDR.

ARD and ZDF paid a mere $8.5 million for the rights to 1998’s World Cup in France. Initially, the pubcasters had offered Kirch $59 million for next year’s games, to be held in Japan and South Korea. Kirch refused.

The pubcasters, which had sought from Kirch a buy-option for the 2006 games in Germany, had to agree to separate future negotiations.

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