French Top 14 Rugby Clubs Reportedly Want To Renegotiate TV Deal With Canal+
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).