British TV coverage at risk
Televised World Cup 2002 matches in Britain are under threat while the BBC and ITV refuse to pay for the rights. German media giants Kirch Sport want £175 million, a 2800% rise compared to the price the BBC/ITV paid jointly in 1998.
With FIFA contractually unable to intervene, there is growing concern that Britain could miss out on the World Cup Finals altogther.
Under Britian's Broadcasting Act, certain events such as the World Cup, the Olympics and Wimbledon are required to be available on free terrestrial TV. This denies the wealthy pay-per-view channels such as Sky Television from bidding.
Kirch Sport paid FIFA £2 billion for the 2002 and 2006 Finals. Their contract does not require them to sell rights to every individual country. This means that without the auction the German's were hoping for, the asking price may not be met.
Tessa Jowell, Britain's new Secretary of State for Culture, will have a crisis on her hands if the nation's football fans are denied coverage. This is one contest that could definitely go to extra time.
27th July 2001