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Pair reschedule pricey soccer deals

ITV, Setanta renegotiate terms of contracts

LONDON — Commercial broadcaster ITV and Irish-based sports channel operator Setanta are attempting to renegotiate the terms of sports contracts worth £425 million ($597 million).

Both cash-strapped companies are seeking to reschedule payments for soccer contracts owed to the Football Assn., according to local media reports.

It is understood that Setanta, which recently was outbid for a package of English Premier League soccer rights by rival pay box BSkyB, delayed making a scheduled payment due yesterday of more than $14 million on a $211 million contract.

ITV, which is expected to announce a “savage” program of economies on Wednesday, is believed to want to reschedule payments on a deal worth $386 million.

ITV’s deal with the FA was hailed as a defining moment in the web’s “turnaround plan” when it was signed in 2007.

But its coverage of FA Cup games has attracted criticism and topper Michael Grade was recently forced to apologize after auds missed a crucial goal when ITV switched to a commercial break during a match.

In the U.K., questions are being asked about the longterm viability of Setanta, which built its business by providing sports coverage to ex-pats in the U.K. and in the U.S.

Setanta has reportedly said it would continue to meet its commitments to the FA, while ITV has made all its payments to date.

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