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ARD, ZDF block Handball World Cup 2015 coverage over satellite dispute

German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have decided not to show the games of the World Men’s Handball Championship 2015 taking place from January 15 to February 1 in Qatar due to a dispute regarding the channel’s unencrypted availability on satellite beyond German borders which is opposed by rights holder beIN Sports.

Broadband TV News reports that despite having submitted a market-conform offer for the rights through their joint sports rights agency SportA in as early as August 2014, the rights holder has only yesterday sent a response setting a basis on which no negotiations can take place, ARD and ZDF said in a statement, adding that the response to their offer “was not acceptable”.

“We regret that we will not be able to report from this major event in a sport popular among the German TV viewers due to a lack of willingness to talk and the breach of written assurances made several months ago by the rights holder,” said ZDF’s head of sports Dieter Gruschwitz.

Mark Schober, general secretary of German handball association DHB, said: “According to our information, the failure to reach an agreement was not based on financial conditions, but in the end on the so called overspill. The parties were not able to agree on the satellite distribution beyond German borders.”

At this year’s FIFA Football World Championship, ARD and ZDF were already in a dispute with beIN Sports regarding their unencrypted live broadcast of all games via satellite.  Both broadcasters switched off their signals on Eutelsat’s Hot Bird satellite system at 13° East during the World Cup. The reason is the larger footprint of Hot Bird compared with Astra (19.2° East) on which ARD and ZDF showed their full World Cup coverage unencrypted.

ARD and ZDF now want to attempt finding a possibility to report about the World Men’s Handball Championship 2015 within their regular news broadcasts.