Kirch, Spain’s Via play ball on Cup fees

Satcaster nabs low-cost option to 2006 matches

MADRID — The Kirch Group and Spanish satcaster Via Digital appear to have buried the hatchet in their price dispute over the 2002 World Cup soccer games.

Under the terms of a new agreement with Kirch, Via has taken up what is probably a low-cost option on all Spanish rights to the 2006 World Cup matches — and slashed the asking price for this year’s tournament, say Via sources.

A Kirch rep was unavailable for comment.

In 1999, Via inked to pay a reported $142 million for all the 2002 matches. (Via sources vigorously dispute this figure.)

Having posted losses of $297.6 million in 2001, Via protested this year that the 2002 matches will be seen free of charge in Spain by anyone who owns a satellite dish aimed at the Astra sat system (Daily Variety, March 5). The cause: overspill from the analog footprint of German pubcasters ARD-ZDF, which have acquired German satellite rights to the World Cup.

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