CSTN tell lawyers to act

Mark Pouchet
Date Published: 
Trinidad Express

CARIBBEAN Sport Television Network (CSTN) managing director Selby Browne has given his lawyers the green light to begin proceedings against Fifa. Browne has taken action over his company’s loss of the broadcast rights for the Fifa U-17 World championships scheduled to be hosted locally from September 13-30.

Browne yesterday took the decision after viewing statements made in the media by Fifa vice-president Jack Warner. Warner was reported to have said that he now owns the broadcast rights for the Fifa U-17 tournament, the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan and the 2006 World Cup to be hosted by Germany. The T&TFF Special Adviser claimed that Prisma Sports had offered the rights to him.

In the report, Warner also stated that the value of the CSTN contract with the now bankrupt ISL/ISMM company, Fifa’s former marketing partner, was US $2.5m and that CSTN had only paid US $62,000 of that amount. The LOC chairman added that CSTN had received a total of US$800,000 from their Jamaica and T&T broadcast affiliates.

These are claims which Browne sought strongly to refute.

“I want to categorically deny that we only paid US $62,000. In fact, we have paid a minimum five times that amount. Also, I categorically deny that we have received US$8,00,000 from those two stations,” Browne told the Express.

Contacted yesterday for his side of the story, Warner said: “I’m not talking to the media. I’ve said so already.”

According to Browne, Warner’s ownership of the rights contradicts the position publicly taken by Fifa president Sepp Blatter who, at a World Broadcasters Meeting in Japan earlier this year, asked broadcasters not to sue the world governing body for the sport and gave the assurance that no broadcaster would suffer any loss as a result of the demise of the ISL. Fifa, he said, would replace their marketing partner and that new partner would re-license everybody in the same manner as they were before.

After the ISL debacle, their place was taken by the Kirchmedia Group, a Switzerland-based company. Last week at a media awareness meeting hosted by the LOC, it was revealed that Prisma Sports, an agent of Kirch, had been awarded the host broadcaster rights for the Fifa U-17 tournament.

Given that scenario, Browne says, the matter is now in his lawyers’ hands.

“We are appalled. We have handed it over to our attorneys and we have no doubt from here on in that they would treat with it,” Browne said.

“We have no doubt that Fifa will be held liable for any damages,” Browne continued, “and compensation for any losses if the statements of Warner with regards to owning the rights to the contract are true.”

“CSTN now invites all their broadcast partners in the region,” Browne ended, “to join us in a suit against Fifa.”