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Nets in soccer shuffle

Mogul lost free-TV rights to top league Austrian soccer

Media mogul Herbert Kloiber is gunning for paybox Premiere and Austrian pubcaster ORF after losing free TV rights to top league Austrian soccer.

Premiere, which controls the TV rights, had sublicensed them to Kloiber’s Austrian channel ATV but this week withdrew them after ATV allegedly failed to fulfill contractual obligations; Premiere then passed the rights on to ORF.

Accusing Premiere topper Georg Kofler “of running amok” and claiming Premiere’s move has no legal basis, Kloiber is now threatening legal action against ORF, which he says has no right to the rights.

According to Kofler, ATV owed Premiere “millions” of euros for the soccer rights but refused to settle the debt. “There was no other choice but to end the contract,” Kofler told Austrian daily Der Standard.

ATV maintains the rights obtained from Premiere lost considerable value after ORF was allowed to air match summaries following the games, which hurt ATV’s own latenight soccer coverage.

ATV and Premiere are already facing off in court, with ATV arguing that the rights were no longer worth the price to which it had originally agreed: a reported E2.7 million ($3.4 million) per year.

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