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Band to pay off Globo football rights debt ‘by September’

Brazilian free-to-air broadcaster Rede Bandeirantes has pledged to pay back the football media-rights debt it owes to Globo, the dominant Brazilian free-to-air broadcaster, by September.

The debt relates to sublicensing agreements between the two parties for rights to the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, Copa do Brasil and state championships between 2014 and 2016.

The final sum owed to Globo of around R$10m (€1.6m/$1.9m) was due in April but will now be settled in September, reports UOL Esporte in Brazil, with a delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit Brazil hard.

Back in May 2016, Band said it would be ending its coverage of the top division of domestic football, having covered the league for a decade through agreements with Globo, the league’s rights-holder.

The two parties were unable to agree a sublicensing deal for the 2016 season amid the “worsening economic crisis” that Band was facing at the time.

It is now reported that Band is anticipating a boost in advertising revenue in the coming months, which would make it easier for the broadcaster to repay the debt.

Band has been repaying the debts, which totalled around R$135m, since the beginning of 2019. UOL Esporte reports that Globo will only be willing to negotiate with Band on other rights deals once the debt has been paid in full.

Globo is itself experiencing financial problems due to Covid-19 and last month it was handed an injunction against football’s world governing body Fifa to withhold a $90m (€78.7m) broadcast rights payment.

Globo successfully argued that its financial situation has been impacted so heavily due to Covid-19 that it is not in a position to pay the fee. Globo and Fifa agreed an eight-year deal covering all Fifa events between 2015 and 2022, including the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The latest fee had been due on June 30.

The broadcaster has also reduced its rights fee payments to Brazilian league clubs during the coronavirus crisis.

Band did not opt to sublicense 2018 World Cup matches from Globo, ending an arrangement that had stood since 2002. Band cited the “strategic change” of the company as it focused its investment on diversified programming that is “increasingly aligned with the taste of the Brazilian public”.