BERLIN — Pubcaster ARD is giving up rights to the Uefa Cup soccer championship in order to finance a pricey deal with talkshow superstar Harald Schmidt.ARD had considered giving up the games after failing to land the increase in viewer license fees it had sought. The deal with Schmidt, a hugely popular host who ankled his show on commercial rival Sat 1 last year, will reportedly cost ARD some e8 million ($10.4 million) annually and has made it necessary to give up the soccer championships. Fellow pubcaster ZDF has said it would seek to continue coverage of the Uefa Cup but would not pick up ARD’s share of the rights. French-based rights group Sportfive handles Uefa Cup rights in Germany and has a contract with ARD and ZDF through 2005.
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