Soccer row on road to legal Arena

Sports channel shows yellow card to paybox rivals

BERLIN — Arena, the upstart sports channel that last year acquired coveted pay TV rights to German soccer, is threatening to go to court if paybox Premiere and its heavyweight partner, telco giant Deutsche Telekom, go forward with plans to broadcast live Bundesliga games over cable and satellite.

Premiere and Deutsche Telekom struck a deal last week that will allow Premiere customers with a broadband connection from DT to see Bundesliga games using a special set-top box connected to their television sets.

Premiere topper Georg Kofler has signaled the companies may extend the deal to allow the broadcaster’s customers to see top German Bundesliga soccer matches over satellite and cable as well.

“As long as they make postage-stamp-sized TV over the Internet, we have no problem with it,” said Arena program director Dejan Jocic. “If Telekom and Premiere infringe on our exclusive rights, we will, of course, take legal action against them.”

While Deutsche Telekom has not yet announced plans to distribute its IPTV offering over satellite and cable, Kofler maintains that option is explicitly stated in the telco’s contract with the German Football League (DFL).

The DFL, however, has stated that Premiere and Deutsche Telekom’s cooperation must remain limited to the telco’s broadband network and not extend over cable and satellite.

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