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Swiss television pulls plug on World Cup

Pay TV group Kirch have been accused of overpricing the World Cup rights Keystone Archive

Switzerland's football fans will have to rely on foreign television stations if they want to watch next year's World Cup finals. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation has announced it will not be buying the broadcasting rights to the world's biggest individual sport event.

This content was published on October 9, 2001 - 15:33

SBC, which owns swissinfo, released a statement on Tuesday saying it had abandoned talks with the German media Kirch which owns the international broadcasting rights to the tournament.

The two parties have been in discussion since last year, but were unable to agree on a price for the World Cup rights.

"The first offer (from Kirch) was for SFr 18 million ($11.5 million)," SBC director general Armin Walpen explained on Tuesday. "For the last World Cup finals in France four years ago we were asked to spend just SFr 1.9 million. Then on top of the rights fee, there are also the production costs to consider."

Drop in revenues

As well as the steep rise in the cost of the broadcasting rights, SBC said it was acting in anticipation of a drop in its revenues, both from a reduction in the number of licence fee payers and from an expected fall in advertising.

The failure of the Swiss football team to qualify for the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea is also likely to have lowered the value of the tournament for a Swiss audience.

The Kirch group became the first private media company to be granted the rights to the World Cup by football's governing body FIFA, following the controversial collapse of the Swiss-based marketing company ISL.

The price placed on the broadcasting rights by Kirch has attracted strong criticism from across Europe where Italy, France, England and Austria have all yet to agree deals with the German company.

swissinfo with agencies

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