Pubcasters score 2002 World Cup

Pricetag estimated at $103 mil

BERLIN — After weeks of wrangling, German pubcasters ARD and ZDF finally inked a deal Wednesday with the Kirch Group for TV rights to the 2002 World Cup soccer championships in South Korea and Japan.

While the parties have not disclosed the final pricetag, estimates put the figure at around DM 225 million ($103 million).

Pubcasters will broadcast at least 24 live matches, including all German team games. ARD and ZDF had wanted assurances from Kirch that they would also acquire rights to the 2006 World Cup to be held in Germany.

All Kirch was willing to offer, however, was a contractual maybe — the pubcasters will, “in all probability,” be offered the rights to the 2006 games.

Pubcasters were also forced to bow to Kirch demands and transmit the games on the analog Astra Satellite to stop viewers in neighboring countries from receiving the broadcasts free.

Kirch paid $780 million for European rights to the World Cup. Last week the media giant acquired U.S. TV and radio rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cup games for an undisclosed amount. Company is in talks with a number of U.S. broadcasters for those rights and expects to ink a deal next month.

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