German TV football deal scrapped following investigation

By Kevin Hilton

SVG Europe correspondent

The deal that allowed German pay TV channel Premiere to transmit
Bundesliga football over satellite has been discontinued following an
investigation by competition authorities. Premiere had been marketing
coverage by the Bundesliga channel, arena, available on a non-exclusive
basis since February but the German Federal Cartel Office has been
looking into the arrangement and the broadcasters involved have decided
to suspend the service for the foreseeable future.

Under the deal agreed by Unity Media, arena and Premiere viewers
who already have a subscription to watch Bundesliga live will not be
affected, nor will cable subscribers, who are able to receive arena
through Premiere in 13 of the 16 German states. Dr. Georg Kofler, chief
executive of Premiere AG, commented, “The German Cartel Office’s
investigations have proven to be more protracted and comprehensive than
was originally expected. The suspension of marketing activities gives
all involved the necessary time and space to evaluate the transaction
in detail and make adjustments if required.”

The three companies are seeking to counter the objections to the
arrangement raised by the German Cartel Office and hope to submit a new
proposal that conforms to competition law by 31st May.

In an earlier announcement Premiere launched a new programming
package, Premiere Sky, which is due to go on air on 1st September this
year. This is intended to complement the existing Premiere packages and
will be the broadcaster’s first pay-TV offering to be available, at
least initially, exclusively by satellite. The aim of the service is to
market existing and new pay-TV channels that are regarded as not having
a suitable satellite marketing outlet. Premiere Sky comes under the
auspices of a new Premiere subsidiary, Premiere Sky GmbH, which is
headed by managing director Wolfram Winter, previously MD of NBC
Universal Global Networks Germany.