Sat.1 cries foul, demands red card
BERLIN — Germany’s ZDF is back in the game after nabbing UEFA Champions League soccer.The pubcaster snatched Champions League free TV rights from commercial rival Sat.1 for the 2012-2015 seasons after agreeing to pay a reported E54 million ($76.5 million) per season. Sat.1, whose current three-season Champions League deal expires next year, is crying foul. Andreas Bartl, who oversees German TV operations at parent group ProSiebenSat.1, said the company is convinced that the Champions League broadcast on ZDF is “problematic” and is weighing legal action against the pubcaster’s acquisition. Sat.1 has accused ZDF of overbidding for the rights in order to forego sponsoring spots, which the pubcaster is prohibited from broadcasting in primetime. Sat.1 reportedly bid some $57 million for the rights. Commercial broadcaster RTL joined Sat.1 in blasting ZDF for wasting license fee money. Tobias Schmid, RTL’s head of media policy, said ZDF was “throwing money away in order to offer something that viewers already have — and without a single cent of our license fees.” ZDF has dismissed criticism of the bid, saying its offer was oriented on current legal grounds. As for pay TV, Sky Germany extended its existing feevee rights through 2015 and also picked up second-tier Europa League rights for 2012-2015. UEFA still has German free TV rights for the Europa League competition on offer.