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Sogecable nets Euro soccer rights

Spanish pay TV operator inks three-year Champions League deal

MADRID — Consolidating its grip on one of its main audience lures, Spain’s main pay TV operator Sogecable has inked a new, exclusive three-year deal for nearly all live rights to soccer matches from the European Champions League, the continent’s premier soccer club contest.

The agreement runs from the 2006/07 season to 2008/09.

Sogecable, owner of satcaster Digital Plus, said Thursday that the deal “substantially improves” the terms of the accord inked in 2003 between Sogecable and the UEFA soccer authorities.

The new pact allows Sogecable to broadcast all Champions League matches live on pay TV save for one on Tuesday night. The first option for this match will go to an as-yet-unknown free-to-air operator in Spain.

Sogecable did not reveal the price paid for the deal.

The pay TV operator currently holds an exclusive first-option on a game played Tuesday nights and an exclusive second choice to a Wednesday game. It also airs further Champions League matches on its niche sports channels.

That arrangement runs until the end of the 2005/06 season.

Sogecable has also acquired rights to Champions League’s footage and summaries for its news and sports programs.

The deal comes as speculation builds in Spain that its government will give a long-awaited thumbs up to Sogecable’s new nationwide analogue terrestrial broadcaster at its final cabinet meeting in the last week of July, just before the August recess.

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