Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

WORLD CUP TO BE FREE ON TV; BBC and ITV Clinch Deal for Next Two Tournaments

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

WORLD CUP TO BE FREE ON TV; BBC and ITV Clinch Deal for Next Two Tournaments

Article excerpt

Byline: LEO SPALL

SOCCER fans will be able to watch the next two World Cup final tournaments free on BBC and ITV after a joint deal worth [pound]160million was finally agreed today.

German media company Kirch held the rights to both tournaments - in Korea and Japan next year, and in Germany in 2006 - but their valuation of the rights had been significantly higher than that of the British broadcasters.

There were fears that England's campaign in next summer's finals would not be available for viewers here. Now, after more than three years of negotiations, BBC and ITV can finally begin to plan for their Gary Lineker and Des Lynam-led schedules.

Next year's tournament will run from 31 May to 30 June, and the kick-offs for first round will cut across the British morning rushhour. Japan and Korea are nine hours ahead, and matches will start at 6.30am, 8.30am, 10.30am and 11am our time.

ITV's head of sport, Brian Barwick, said of the deal: "This is very good news. It has been a long, vibrant negotiation which began less than a month after France scored their last goal against Brazil in the last World Cup final in 1998.

"At times we were some way apart and there were occasions when we did not know how we would square the circle. We maintained a dialogue throughout and both sides sat down again to try to reach an agreement after England qualified for Korea and Japan.

"Being able to move into a position to show the 2006 World Cup finals as well was critical to the negotiations, and BBC and ITV have paid what we believe to be a fair market price for significant sporting properties." Talks between the UK broadcasters and Kirch started with the German firm demanding [pound]170million for the 2002 finals. They had paid football's world governing body, FIFA, [pound]748million for the global rights.

The Football Association's chief

executive Adam Crozier described the price as "obscene" and the British broadcasters offered a joint deal worth [pound]55 million. …

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