Swiss television viewers and listeners will have to watch or listen to foreign broadcasters if they want to see football's 2002 World Cup. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) considers the rights to the competition far too expensive.
The SBC would have to acquire the rights from their lone holder, Germany's Kirch group. Kirch also holds the rights to the 2006 World Cup.
Broadcasting the competition, which will be held in Japan and Korea, would cost the SBC SFr24 to 30 million, according to Urs Leutert, head of the SBC's Business Unit Sport. As well as the broadcast rights, this sum includes extra production costs, estimated to be as much as SFr10 million.
The price of the rights offered by Kirch has not been revealed, but it is beyond the financial means of the SBC. The sum the broadcaster would have to hand over is 10 times more than what was paid for the rights to 1998 World Cup in France.
The SBC doesn't lay all the blame at Kirch's door. FIFA, the worldwide football authority, sold the rights to 2002 and 2006 competitions to the German company for a price 14 times higher than on previous occasions. "Kirch just passed the extra cost on to the broadcasters" said Leutert.
There is, for the moment, no way Swiss viewers will see the event, even if the national team managed to qualify. "Financially, there is no way we can play in this division," said Leutert.
Furthermore, the match times between seven in the morning and two thirty in the afternoon do not guarantee enough advertising revenue to cover some of the costs.
The SBC would be prepared to reconsider though if there was a significant change to the situation. It could acquire partial rights or team up with other broadcasters.
The SBC has tried to negotiate partial rights, but so far the Kirch group has only proposed one package to the Swiss so far.
The outlook for the 2006 World Cup in Germany is not much better. Kirch holds the rights and the fact that the competition is being held in Europe can only drive prices upwards.
swissinfo with agencies