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CCTV Closer to World Cup Rights

China Central Television(CCTV) stands a better chance than before of securing the right to broadcast the 2002 World Cup on the mainland, with the withdrawal of its Hong Kong competitor from bidding, according to media reports.

Ma Guoli, director of CCTV's sports center, denied any know-ledge about the withdrawal of an undisclosed Hong Kong media company.

"So far we haven't been notified of any latest development," Ma said. "The biggest problem is still the price."

Hong Kong media reported yesterday that the Special Administrative Region's broadcasting company, reportedly a satellite TV station, had withdrawn from the bidding.

CCTV is now in talks with Germany's KirchMedia, the authorized marketing company for the World Cup, for the broadcasting rights.

However, China's official TV station operator may have trouble matching the prices offered by other regional networks, including a Singapore TV station.

CCTV is reportedly offering US$12 million for the rights to broadcast both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup matches.

Its competitors, meanwhile, are reported to be offering US$12 million just for next year's tournament.

Analysts said the World Cup organizers will also consider commercial interest in the country where the game is broadcast.

Ma declined to predict when the rights will be awarded, saying it's up to KirchMedia.

"It's also too early to discuss our cooperation with other domestic sports channels in broadcasting the matches," he noted. "We can cooperate, but there is also competition."

The month-long tournament is expected to generate 100 million yuan (US$12 million) in advertising revenue, according to Yuan Feng, executive supervisor of CCTV's central viewer survey and consulting center.

"CCTV will unlikely allow local TV stations to broadcast the matches simultaneously because of ad benefits," said Li Gongzhen, deputy director of the Shanghai Morning Post's sports section. "Regional stations usually buy the less exciting games, which can't be broadcast by CCTV due to conflicting time."

On the Chinese mainland, there are about 400 million football fans, most of whom watch matches on television, according to industry sources.

The figure is expected to jump 50 percent during the World Cup finals because China for the first time has been qualified, said analysts.

The slight time differences between South Korea, Japan and China will also guarantee large viewership, said industry officials.

(eastday.com Decemeber 12, 2001 )

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