By Andy Sambidge
Qatar TV station signs deal for exclusive rights to bolster sports portfolio.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera Sport Channels has announced the purchase of all sports content, rights of broadcast and trademarks of the Arab Radio and Television (ART).
The deal, which was revealed by director-general Nasser al-Khulaifi, will see the TV company add a range of top quality exclusive sport rights to its portfolio, including the FIFA World Cup 2010 and 2014 and the African Cup of Nations from 2010 to 2016.
The value of the deal was not disclosed was is thought to be in the region of $1bn.
The landmark deal is the second consolidation between Middle East pay-TV providers this year after the merger between Orbit and Showtime in July. Al Jazeera Sport already holds the exclusive rights in the region for major football leagues such as the Italian Serie A, Spain’s La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, Gulf Times reported on Wednesday. However, ART will continue to act as host broadcaster for the Saudi Football Federation games, and to transmit the matches on ART Sport 7 jointly with Al Jazeera Sport Channels until the end of the 2010-2011 season. ART Sport 7 will be available on the Al Jazeera Sport Channels bouquet.
ART will distribute Al Jazeera Sport Channels +1 to +8 on a non-exclusive basis as part of the new ART bouquets.
ART Sport and Al Jazeera Sport subscribers will be given free access to both bouquets for December.
ART Sport channels 1 to 6 will cease transmission on December 31.
ART executive vice president of information Mohiuddin Saleh Kamel denied that the ART decision to sell its sports channels and broadcast rights was due to financial problems at the network, telling reporters “it was just a change of strategy".