Setanta Sports, ITV snag UK FA Cup and all-England matches for $850 million

By Kevin Hilton

SVG European correspondent

The position of BSkyB and the BBC in sports broadcasting has been
further undermined with the English Football Association announcing on
Friday that Setanta Sports and ITV will be its exclusive UK broadcaster
partners from August 2008 to July 2012. The 425 million deal is 42 percent up on the current 300 million
contract with Sky and the BBC and covers the FA Cup and all England
matches. The new arrangement will maintain the balance of free-to-air
and subscription coverage of football and further extends the reach of
Irish pay-per-view broadcaster Setanta into the English game.

Setanta will also have extended coverage of other FA tournaments,
including the Community Shield and the FA Trophy. Commercial
terrestrial network ITV has long vied with the BBC for sports rights
and as well as the FA Cup it will also have live rights to the Women’s
FA Cup Final.

The extra revenue generated by the four-year deal will be
re-invested by the FA to fund all levels of English football. Brian
Barwick, the FA chief executive who led the Association’s negotiating
team, commented, “ITV is the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster and
has captured many special moments in English football history, while
Setanta is an ambitious, emerging sports broadcaster that can see our
properties as the next crucial step in its development.”

Setanta’s co-founder and joint chief executive, Michael, O’Rourke,
said, “This is a major coup for Setanta Sports and will mean that we
will have live football every week of the football season.” The Irish
company already has rights to the FA Premier League from August this
year, as well as the Scottish Premier League. The deal includes
extensive mobile and video-on-demand services from Setanta, which will
also provide online access, as will ITV.