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Televisa suing DirecTV

World Cup dispute expected to last two years

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Grupo Televisa is suing DirecTV Latin America for 153 million pesos ($15 million) in a dispute over World Cup soccer rights.

Satcaster DirecTV Latin America purchased exclusive rights to last month’s tourney for six Spanish-lingo countries, including Mexico, where it sub-licensed matches to No.1 broadcaster Televisa and its smaller rival TV Azteca.

Televisa had a deal to broadcast 18 of the cup’s 64 matches, including all games featuring the Mexican national team, the semi-finals and the final.

But DirecTV maintains Televisa aired more, forfeiting the $15 million letter of credit Televisa provided to compensate DirecTV in the event of a breach of agreement.

“DirecTV Latin America had a very clear and specific agreement with Televisa and its affilialtes regarding the broadcast rights of the 2002 FIFA World Cup,” the satcaster said in a statement. “Televisa breached the terms of the agreement and, as a consequence, DirecTV Latin America collected under the letter of credit and initiated an action for additional damages against Televisa.”

Televisa says it is in the right. “We would not be taking this to the courts if we did not feel we had a strong case,” one Televisa exec told Daily Variety. A court battle is expected to last two years

Should Televisa lose, its advertising windfall from the cup would be virtually wiped out. It recorded World Cup-related sales of about $36 million, but spent around $20 million on covering the tourney.

Meanwhile, the 2002 World Cup will reportedly result in a major write-off for DirecTV, in part due to the devaluation of the Argentine peso.

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