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Brazil’s high court fielding soccer feud

TV Globo, SBT battle reaches highest peak

RIO DE JANEIRO — The highly public battle over soccer rights between leading broadcasters TV Globo and SBT has gone all the way to Brazil’s Supreme Court.

At stake is No. 1 net TV Globo’s virtual monopoly over soccer coverage — and ad packages SBT sold based on an exclusive deal.

SBT tried to break Globo’s hold on Brazilian soccer by inking in December with the Sao Paulo State Soccer Federation for the exclusive coverage of league games; the league is one of the most important in Brazil.

Renewal issue

The legal battle began Dec. 11, two days after SBT signed its deal. Globo challenged the accord, saying it had an option to renew with the league.

In the latest development, the Brazilian Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to overturn an injunction against Globo. The earlier injunction had upheld SBT’s rights to the games, and it is now appealing.

In the meantime, the league postponed a Wednesday match, attributing its decision to heavy rain. However, many analysts believe that it was a move aimed at preventing TV Globo from airing the game.

Rained out?

The league’s season began Saturday with two matches, which were aired by SBT. But TV Globo secured a last-minute court ruling that allowed its crews to access the stadium, and it also broadcast the day’s second game.

SBT has already sold ad/marketing packages to automaker Fiat, local bank Bradesco, pharmaceutical company Pfizer and retailer Casas Bahia, among others.

Advertisers may reconsider the sponsorships that were based on an exclusive access deal.

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