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Canal Plus, Orange share soccer

French TV rights cost $978 million

PARIS — French soccer org Ligue de Football Professionnel has passed live broadcast rights for top league games to Canal Plus and France Telecom’s Orange.

The pair will pay a total of Euros 668 million ($978 million) per season between 2008 and 2012, a slight rise on the $956 million the clubs receive now.

Canal Plus will pay $673 million a season, down from the $878 million it has been paying since 2005.

Canal Plus loses exclusive rights to the popular magazine programs “Jour de Foot” and “Les Specialistes,” but retains most other assets.

Canal Plus has won two of the three lots, including the right to screen matches on Sunday nights and offer pay-per-view access.

Orange has acquired three lots for the Saturday matches, as well as the rights for mobile TV and VOD broadcasts.