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UPC Belgium to air soccer championship

World Brief

Cable operator UPC Belgium has won the exclusive pay TV rights to air European tourney, Champions League soccer until 2006.

The scoop was made possible by a new system of marketing rights, which means that instead of granting all the rights to a single terrestrial broadcaster, European soccer governing body UEFA breaks them up into packages so that all broadcasters can get a piece of the action.

This means that channels like Flemish-language pubcaster VRT and commercial channel Club RTL will show some live Champions League games, while UPC Belgium will show others. Games will be offered at no extra charge to subscribers to UPC’s optional pay channels in Brussels and Louvain from Sept. 16.

UPC, which announced last week that it had the exclusive pay TV rights to Champions League games in the Netherlands, got the rights through subsidiary United Football Broadcasting.

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