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Germany

Pay TV Secures Soccer Broadcasting Rights

Premiere, the German pay-TV operator, has obtained exclusive broadcasting rights for the UEFA Champions League soccer games for the next three seasons. Soccer fans will only be able to watch the games of Europe's top soccer clubs from mid-2006 on Premiere. But to ease concerns of sporting authorities that making matches available only to paying subscribers would alienate soccer fans, Premiere has committed to broadcasting 13 of the series' 125 games on a free channel, which it will either set up or acquire. The plan means Premiere will move away from its pure pay-TV model, but it is part of the strategy of CEO Georg Kofler, who is refocusing the business with the aim of returning it to profitability. Losses at Premiere of more than €1.2 billion ($1.5 million) in 2001 helped bring about the collapse of the Kirch media empire, one of corporate Germany's most spectacular implosions.

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