World Cup TV monopoly at an end

Date Published: 
The Independent

Fifa, football's world governing body, has signalled the end of terrestrial television's monopoly on broadcasting World Cup matches, saying that the bulk of the action will be broadcast on satellite, cable and pay-per-view stations in the future. Games at the 2002 finals involving British teams, however, will still be available on terrestrial television.

The news was broken in Japan as Fifa explained that under their own rules and the domestic Broadcasting Act, which protects certain listed events, BBC or ITV will still be able to televise live the opening match in South Korea, the semi-finals, and the final in Japan. "Sky could have every World Cup match except ones precluded by domestic agreement," Keith Cooper, Fifa's chief spokesman, said.

Although forbidding any matches to go out live on pay-per-view, Fifa will permit "non-listed" games to be shown live exclusively to normal Sky subscribers. "Pay-per-view can only be used for recorded games," Cooper said.

The FA's executive director, David Davies, said it was no surprise that satellite television's involvement in the competition had grown. "In the world we are living in, no one will be surprised if satellite has a part of a major sporting event. Between now and 2002 and 2006, the number of people with access to satellite will have grown again. The World Cup is a monumental event. I'm most certain that the opening event, the final itself and the semis will always be on terrestrial."

Fifa has sold the worldwide rights to 2002 for £750m to the German company Prisma Kirsch, which is seeking to cover its investment and maximise profits.