Pubcasters not willing to pay $347 mil for b'cast rights

BERLIN — In an impassioned speech, sounding downright angry at times, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder demanded that media mogul Leo Kirch restart negotiations with national pubcasters ARD and ZDF regarding rights to the World Cup soccer matches.

“I say to Kirch, make sure your people go back to the negotiating table with ARD and ZDF so that the fans get what they want and what they deserve,” Schroeder said.

Speaking at his Social Democrats party’s traditional Ash Wednesday conference in Rhineland-Palatinate, Schroeder said the government would step in and introduce laws to guarantee that World Cup soccer remains on free TV if Kirch refused further talks.

Negotiations between the pubcasters, which have always aired the soccer spectacle, and Kirch, which acquired the World Cup rights last year, collapsed last week. The pubcasters refused to pay Kirch’s asking price, reportedly DM750 million ($347 million), for the 2002 and 2006 events.

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