Euros bid for Cup

Pubcasters make offer for 2006 tourney

COLOGNE — Europe’s pubcasters have approached soccer association Fifa with an offer for the TV broadcasting rights to the 2006 World Cup, still held by the cash-strapped Kirch Group.

The European Broadcasting Union has offered $483 million for the rights, according to German pubcaster ZDF head Markus Schaechter. That’s $9 million above the price Kirch Media paid in 1996.

The two German pubcasters, ZDF and ARD, are the largest members of the EBU and would carry most of the costs.

Although ARD and ZDF criticized skyrocketing prices, and themselves were criticized for caving into Kirch’s demands for the 2002 games, they made a higher offer as they expect revenues from sales to justify the price.

The 2006 World Cup will be held in Germany. Live broadcasts will be much more attractive to viewers in the European time zone than this year’s tournament in Japan and South Korea.

The soccer rights are not part of Kirch Media’s bankruptcy assets, however, as the company transferred them to a Swiss-based subsidiary some months ago.

It is legally unclear whether the Kirch Group can keep the rights or if Fifa can retrieve them.

Nationally, where rights also are under negotiation, TV producer-distrib Herbert Kloiber has reportedly joined Deutsche Telekom to bid for the rights to Germany’s regular league.