League rethinks plans for TV coverage

The German Soccer League (DFL) will restart the sale of broadcast rights for top league Bundesliga matches, according to DFL VP Peter Peters.

Move follows the German antitrust watchdog’s recent threat to block a E3 billion ($4.4 billion) deal between the DFL and media mogul Leo Kirch to produce and market Bundesliga soccer on pay TV from 2009-15.

At the Medienwoche media confab in Berlin on Monday, Peters said the DFL was not under pressure and had enough time to sell the rights before the start of next summer’s Bundesliga season.

While the DFL could fight a Cartel Office ruling in court, Peters said it was too early to decide, as the regulator had not yet handed down a formal decision.

The Cartel Office threatened to block the deal between DFL and Kirch’s Sirius SportMedia because it would force more soccer fans to buy pay TV by pushing pubcaster ARD’s early evening soccer summary show to a latenight slot, giving feevee operators greater exclusivity.

The Cartel Office has insisted that a summary of Saturday matches must be shown before 8 p.m. on free TV.

The DFL has until March, when bidding for the Bundesliga rights begins, to draw up a new sales plan.

Carsten Schmidt, head of sports at pay TV platform Premiere, called for a speedier decision, saying the uncertainty was costing it subscribers.

Dejan Jocic, an exec at Sirius, said the ambitious marketing plan that aimed to make $725 million a year was no longer possible, but left open the possibility that Sirius and the DFL would continue to work together on the Bundesliga rights.

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