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Volume 6 No. 213


An advisor to Europe's highest court ruled that Britain and Belgium "should be allowed to ensure free-to-air TV coverage of the World Cup and Euro football finals as they consider them of major public importance," according to Foo Yun Chee of REUTERS. FIFA and UEFA argued that the two countries had interfered with its property rights by "restricting the broadcast of both competitions to free-to-air TV channels, preventing pay-TV companies from bidding to screen them." TV broadcasting rights for the finals of the major tournaments, held every four years, "account for a significant source of revenues" for FIFA and UEFA. Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice will "rule on the case in the coming months." While the advocate general's opinion "does not tie the judges hands, they follow advisers' recommendations in the majority of cases" (REUTERS, 12/12). BLOOMBERG's Stephanie Bodoni reported EUCJ Advocate General Niilo Jaeaeskinen said EU nations can include the World and Euro championships in lists of events that are "of major importance" to society and can "require that they be broadcast on free-to-air television." The court "follows such advice in most cases." FIFA and UEFA are "appealing a lower court ruling" concerning the U.K. and Belgium that determined fans with access to a TV should be able to watch World Cup and European Championship matches, which involve national teams, for free (BLOOMBERG, 12/12).

In the U.K., coverage of the London 2012 Olympics and Euro 2012 "dominates the list of the most-popular TV programmes of the year ahead of the usual chart toppers, including The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and Downton Abbey," according Tara Conlan of the London GUARDIAN. The Olympic Closing Ceremony on Aug. 12 "was the most-watched programme of the year, with an average audience of 24.5 million viewers," despite a mixed critical reception, just ahead of Dir Danny Boyle's "widely acclaimed Opening Ceremony on July 27 (24.2 million)." BBC1's live coverage of the Closing Ceremony "attracted a bigger average audience than any U.K. TV show for more than 30 years" (GUARDIAN, 12/12).

Most-Viewed TV Programs in the U.K. in '12
Rank Channel
Viewers in Millions
Olympics 2012: Closing Ceremony 24.5
79% Aug. 12
Olympics 2012: Opening Ceremony 24.2
July 27
Euro 2012: England vs. Italy
June 24
BBC1 Olympics 2012: Men’s 100m final 17.3
Aug. 5
Euro 2012: England vs. Ukraine
16.3 (incl. 100,000 on ITV1 +1)
June 19
The Diamond Jubilee Concert 15.3
June 4
Euro 2012: Sweden vs. England
14.2 53%
June 15
Olympics 2012: Women’s 400m final 13.6
Aug. 5
Britain’s Got Talent
13.1 (incl. 600,000 on ITV1 +1)
May 12
ITV1 Euro 2012: France v England
12.6 (incl. 100,000 on ITV1 +1)
June 11

ESPN and French telecom company SFR have reached an agreement for the launch of ESPN America, a channel devoted to the best and most authentic coverage of American sports. The agreement also includes a renewal of ESPN Classic, which will continue to be available to the SFR box viewers. ESPN America provides access to more than 500 live U.S. sports events, in HD on ESPN America HD, as well as ESPN's studio and news programming. The channels will be available to sports fans in France. ESPN America HD will be available from Feb. 12. Highlights of the programming on ESPN America include: NFL, MLB, NFL and NCAA football, X Games, sports documentary films and news & studio programs (ESPN).

Telecom company Telstra and the Australian Rugby League Commission "have established a media joint venture to report on the National Rugby League," as part of a sponsorship and digital rights partnership worth more than A$100M ($105.7M), according to Mitchell Bingemann of THE AUSTRALIAN. In a move "reminiscent of the Australian Football League establishing its own online media division," Telstra and the ARLC will set up a media unit and employ journalists to report on NRL matches and breaking news. The NRL media unit will also stream exclusive post-game access. Telstra CEO David Thodey said, "We're going to push a few boundaries I think and I think it's very exciting." Telstra Media Group Managing Dir Rick Ellis said that the joint venture would "establish a set of governance rules for the unit, tentatively dubbed NRL Media, and would begin hiring staff in the new year." Ellis said, "There will be a significant increase in staff. We will both provide expertise and Telstra will provide technical capability, but we will also get new staff" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/13).

ONE World Sports network, which offers access to sports such as football, basketball, baseball and golf from Asia, the Pacific and around the world, is now available on Optimum TV. The network, which can be found on Optimum TV channel 1159, provides exclusive live and same-day coverage of int'l sporting events, including top Asian football through the AFC Champions League, Asian Cup, J-League and Chinese Super League (ONE World Sports). ... Cricket Australia announced that the Rose Bowl Series between the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars and the New Zealand White Ferns will be streamed live on (CA).