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Rights war blanks Madrid derby

August 29, 2007

From David Del Valle in Madrid

The Spanish football TV war between Sogecable and Mediapro, main shareholder in commercial channel La Sexta, prevented viewers outside of Spain from watching the Madrid derby game live on Saturday evening.

The opening weekend of the season was in chaos as several games were embroiled in the dispute. As well as Real Madrid game against Atlético, the game between Racing and Barça was also unable to be seen by many and that has caused the problem to escalate. La Sexta is responsible for screening games to an international audience, but it was unable to at the weekend.

“Sogecable prevented la Sexta’s cameras from enterting the Bernabéu stadium on the day of the derby,” said a source from Mediapro. Sogecable announced it would cut the signal to rival La Sexta, the free-to-air channel which belongs to Mediapro, because it still owes Sogecable E58m for matches over the last two years. Mediapro responded by blocking broadcasts on Sogecable’s pay-TV service, Digital+, who were unable to show highlights of the three games that la Sexta covered at the weekend.

Audiovisual Sport, the company owned by Sogecable to manage the TV rights to the Spanish Football League, has filed a new lawsuit against Medipro claiming for E200 million damages, following the broadcast of several TV matches free-to-air last weekend by Mediapro. Sogecable and Audiovisual Sport continue accusing Mediapro of pirating the TV signal and causing a black-out preventing people from outside of Spain from watching the football matches on TV. Mediapro has made a call for dialogue but has insisted that if no agreement is reached the company will broadcast again free-to-air three football matches on La Sexta next weekend.

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