RTL says can't afford to bid for Bundesliga soccer

Business Materials 7 April 2008 05:18

European broadcast group RTL will not bid for the next round of TV rights for the Bundesliga, Germany's premier-league soccer, because it will be too expensive, the head of its German operations told Der Spiegel magazine. ( Reuters )

"Of course, in our fondest dreams, we'd love to have the Bundesliga," Anke Schaeferkordt said in an interview released over the weekend ahead of publication on Monday.

"But I don't need to ask my owners first to know that we can't pay the kind of money that public service broadcasters can offer, thanks to the licence revenues they get from taxpayers," she added.

Soccer is Germany's most popular sport and the rights to the Bundesliga have single-handedly supported the success of German pay-TV broadcaster Premiere. The rights from 2009 are due to be auctioned in the summer.

Germany's soccer ruling body, the DFL, expects the broadcast rights for the next six reasons to fetch 575 million euros ($903 million) per season.

Luxembourg-based RTL is 90 percent owned by Germany's Bertelsmann, Europe's biggest media group.

Schaeferkordt said Bertelsmann thought of itself as a long-term owner of RTL. "We don't need to worry that we'll be sold on in two or three years," she said.

Bertelsmann raked in 695 million euros in dividend payments from RTL for 2007, more than the broadcaster made in net profit.