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ARD, ZDF score Cup

Deal includes live b'cast of all Teuton games

BERLIN — German pubcasters ARD and ZDF scored a major coup Monday, stumping up an estimated $240 million for the acquisition of terrestrial TV rights to the top 2006 World Cup soccer championship matches.

Deal, inked with Swiss-based sports agency Infront, includes the live broadcast of the opening match, all German games, all quarterfinals, the semifinals and final.

The new agreement is a far cry from the $120 million deal ARD and ZDF made with the now defunct Kirch Media for the 2002 World Cup games, which gave the pubcasters free TV rights to only 26 live matches.

While ARD and ZDF have faced heavy criticism for spending license fee money on pricey sports rights, the pubcasters are said to be considering sharing the cost and the matches with commercial rivals RTL and ProSiebenSat.1.

Although financial details of the deal were not provided, ARD topper Jobst Plog said the amount paid was under Infront’s asking price.

The purchase also gives the pubcasters rights to additional games for wrap-up reports on matches not included in the deal.

During the 2002 World Cup, paybox Premiere acquired most of the live matches from parent company Kirch Group, which controlled worldwide rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cup. Kirch went bankrupt in 2002 and its sports rights assets were picked up by Infront.

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