RTVE kicks up coin for soccer rights

Net gets exclu first option on Wednesday games

MADRID — Spanish pubcaster Radiotelevisioon Espanola (RTVE) has ponied up E 24 million ($28.1 million) to extend its terrestrial exclusive on European Champions’ League soccer for three more years.

The deal, which runs from the 2003/04 season, complements the agreement announced a week earlier by pay TV operator Sogecable, allowing RTVE an exclusive first option on one game played Wednesday nights, and a non-exclusive, second-choice on Tuesday nights, where Sogecable has the exclusive first option.

RTVE will also offer recorded highlights from all matches.

The deal continues the pubcaster’s policy of snagging rights to must-see sports events. RTVE already has rights to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and Portugal’s European Cup soccer.

It reportedly paid around $46.8 million in 1999 for free and pay TV rights to four years of European Champions’ League games. The European Union has insisted since then that Europe’s Uefa soccer body splits free and pay TV rights in individual territories.

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