Premiere may lose Olympics rights

IOC crtical of Kirch co.'s dealings

BERLIN — Kirch’s financially troubled pay web Premiere may lose rights to the next three Olympic Games as German pubcasters ARD and ZDF drive a hard bargain for sports rights from bankrupt TV titan Kirch Media.

ARD and ZDF have said they will pay Kirch Media’s s30 million ($29.6 million) asking price for next season’s league soccer rights if it returns certain rights to the 2004, 2006 and 2008 Olympics it got from the pubcasters as part payment for the 2002 World Cup soccer tourney.

Despite insolvency, Kirch Media acquired the league soccer rights in June for $574 million plus a one-off $49 million. It will air games on Premiere and wants to sell secondary rights to ARD and ZDF. But it may also give them to its own commercial webs Sat 1 and sports weblet DSF, or even rival RTL.

Olympic criticism

The pubcasters, which control German rights to the Olympics until 2008, faced criticism from the Intl. Olympic Committee for passing on the rights to a third party.

The pubcasters had also planned to use Olympic rights in future negotiations with Kirch Media for the 2006 World Cup.

The next Olympic Games in 2004 will be held in Athens, followed by Turin in 2006 and Beijing in 2008.

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