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Volume 6 No. 216


France's leading rugby union clubs "are reportedly set to activate a cancellation clause in their agreement with broadcasters Canal+ in the hope of securing a more lucrative TV rights deal," according to ESPN. Canal+ "has been the Top 14's principle partner since 1995 and has been a key factor in the league's development during the professional era during which time it has grown into arguably the strongest professional competition in the rugby world." The latest agreement was struck in '11 with Canal+, a pay-TV service that forms part of the French media and telecommunications giant Vivendi SA, "able to negotiate a reduction on their previous deal as the only broadcaster vying for the rights." The French clubs "had to settle for a five-year deal" worth €158.5M ($210M), or €31.7M ($42M) per season that "reportedly left a bitter taste in the mouth of the owners who hoped to secure a boost in revenue in line with the bumper deal struck between Canal+ and France's leading football competition, Ligue 1." However, the clubs "held onto a lifeline in the form of a get-out clause that would allow them to cancel the agreement after two years in the hope that a more competitive rights market had developed." The window for such a move begins on Sept. 1 and stretches to Dec. 31 and "would enable the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), the umbrella body for the country's leading clubs, to put the rights out to tender once again" (ESPN, 8/12).

PUSHING FOR RENEGOTIATION: L'EQUIPE reported Top 14 club Presidents Alain Afflelou (Bayonne), Mourad Boudjellal (Toulon), Mohed Altrad (Montpellier), Jacky Lorenzetti (Racing Metro) and Laurent Marti (Bordeaux-Begles) "are pushing for a renegotiation." Marti said, "Two years ago, Canal+ underpaid for the rights. The current agreement is laughable...We must terminate and re-negotiate." Boudjellal said, "In 2011, their first offer of €20M was almost shameful, almost a way of taunting us." (L'EQUIPE, 8/12).

BT Sport's coverage of top British football got off to "a patchy start with nearly twice as many people attending one of its early showpiece Scottish encounters than watching it on the BT Sport channel," according to John Reynolds of the London GUARDIAN. The early season encounter between Scottish Second Division clubs Rangers and Brechin City is "the first time BT has shown a live game featuring the Scottish footballing giant." However, an "average of just 24,000 watched" the game, "dwarfed by the 44,800 who attended the match at Ibrox." BT said that it was "'very pleased' with the viewing figures given that BT Sport is less than two weeks old." BT also "pointed to comparative figures for matches screened by rival BSkyB in the past." A BT spokesperson said, "Sky Sports allegedly have five times our audience yet they only attracted twice as many viewers to similar Rangers games last season, as well as some top tier clashes from the Scottish Premier League" (GUARDIAN, 8/13).

German public broadcaster ARD "recorded successful ratings for its broadcast of the 2013 IAAF World Championships on Monday afternoon," according to Sidney Schering of QUOTENMETER. Starting on Monday at 5:10pm, a total of 2.69 million viewers tuned in to watch ARD's broadcast. In the target demographic 14-49, the athletics championships from Moscow attracted 640,000 viewers and obtained a 11.1% market share (QUOTENMETER, 8/13).

FIFA has launched three new Facebook pages. The new Facebook pages are: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil -- covering all the build-up to, and action during, the 2014 World Cup; FIFA World Cup -- charting the history of the competition from 1930-2010, showcasing FIFA's multimedia archive and enabling fans to share their World Cup memories; and FIFA -- focusing on the whole of FIFA's work around the globe, from football development, Football for Health and corporate social responsibility projects to behind-the-scenes images, videos, and fan engagement opportunities at events such as the FIFA Ballon D'Or. FIFA Dir of Communications & Public Affairs Walter De Gregorio said, "More than 4.5 million football fans have been actively engaging with us in six different languages." During June and the FIFA Confederations Cup, 30 million users in 30 days visited, and the first competition-specific Facebook page, as well as the page for the official FIFA World Cup mascot, Fuleco, were launched (FIFA).