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Premiere offsides

Court injunction halts soccer promos

With soccer’s World Cup due to start here Friday, the battle over TV rights to the local Bundesliga matches has escalated: A Hamburg court granted upstart sports channel Arena a temporary injunction blocking paybox Premiere from advertising its own soccer offering.

Arena, which last year acquired exclusive pay TV rights to the lucrative Bundesliga, objects to the fact that Premiere’s ad campaign claims it will air live matches for 2006 and 2007, but conceals the fact that the agreement is only for Internet distribution and does not include cable or satellite.

Premiere has a Bundesliga Internet deal with Deutsche Telekom, which controls online rights to the games.

Premiere topper Georg Kofler had hinted it may broadcast the Internet coverage over cable and satellite via Internet Protocol TV.

Arena managing director Christoph Bellmer has accused Premiere of “consciously deceiving soccer fans,” adding the injunction helps to establish clarity.

Premiere maintains that no decision has been made regarding IPTV distribution of the Bundesliga games, adding it would inform its subscribers as soon as information was available.

The paybox said it would not alter its communications strategy.

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