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RAI cries foul over Kirch’s Cup prices

Waiting for 'sensible proposal,' sez Zaccaria

MILAN — Italian pubcaster RAI has become the latest web to cry foul over the high price Germany’s Kirch Group is demanding for rights to the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament.

On Monday, RAI president Roberto Zaccaria warned he may not even be able to afford the Italian team’s matches after he revealed that Kirch demanded $200 million for the championship, to be held in Japan and South Korea.

“They will have to come out with a sensible proposal,” he said. “We might buy only the first matches, and we might not be able to acquire all the matches of the Italian team.

“This is not just an Italian problem; other European countries are in the same situation. Germany’s state-owned TV channels have at least twice the budget of RAI — we do not have their financial resources.” German pubcasters ARD and ZDF struck a record $119 million deal for the championships on March 6, after Kirch reportedly demanded $347 million.

According to regulations in soccer-mad Italy, the World Cup matches in which the Italy plays must be seen free in the territory.

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