LONDON — The European soccer association UEFA has banned German pubcasters ARD and ZDF from selling pay TV rights to the 2004 European Championship matches to the Kirch Group.
ARD said Friday, however, that the deal involved free TV rights and not pay rights. For the 2002 World Cup rights, the German pubcasters recently paid Kirch DM225 million ($103 million), a cost they had planned to offset by selling the conglom rights to the 2004 European Championships in Portugal as well as to the 2002 and 2004 Olympic Games.
According to newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, however, the UEFA has prohibited ARD and ZDF from selling rights to any of the European Championship matches to Kirch.
The pubcasters want to sell free TV rights to the European Championships to Kirch network SAT1 or its sports channel DSF. Pay TV rights to the Olympics, however, would go to Kirch’s feevee web Premiere World.
ARD and ZDF hope to employ a similar strategy when they negotiate with Kirch the purchase of rights to the 2006 World Cup games, to be held in Germany.
According to Albert Scharf, head of ARD affiliate Bayerischer Rundfunk, any sale of European Championship rights would be carried out in cooperation with the UEFA.
The UEFA has said that it, and not ARD and ZDF, controls pay TV rights to the European Championships. Furthermore, any sale of European Championship rights to other free TV broadcasters has to be approved by the soccer association as well.
The European Broadcasting Union, of which ARD and ZDF are members, paid the UEFA some $500 million for the rights to the 2004 European Championships.