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BeIN’s Digiturk freezes rights payments to Turkish Süper Lig

Digiturk, the Turkish pay-television subsidiary of international broadcaster beIN Media Group, has informed the Turkish Football Federation that it will be withholding payment for the rights to the top-flight of Turkish football.

Digiturk did not make a payment worth around $30m (€27.6m) and has informed the TFF that it will not be making any further payments until the league season resumes, reports Bloomberg.

Digiturk has already paid 75 per cent of this season’s fees but still owes more than $100m in payments for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

The payment covers both the domestic rights held by Digiturk and the international rights which beIN exploits on its platforms or sells into markets where it is not present.

Digiturk is understood to have written to the TFF on Monday informing it of the decision after the Süper Lig has been without matches for more than a month as Turkey responded to the Covid-19 outbreak by postponing live sports.

The broadcaster and rights-holder have had a strained relationship in the last 12 months, having renegotiated the Süper Lig contract in August as the ailing Turkish Lira caused Digiturk’s payments to balloon far in advance of what was anticipated when the deal was originally signed in 2016.

Digiturk agreed a deal which was around 20-per-cent lower than it had been paying but with a higher forex floor which was set at $1/TRY5.8. It runs until the end of the 2021-22 season. The fee is paid to the TFF in Lira in eight equal instalments per season.

Digiturk’s parent company beIN has taken similar payment measures in France where it has withheld a €45m payment owed to the French Professional League.

The broadcaster has decided to suspend the next payments until Ligue 1 and 2 matches can resume “according to a schedule allowing their normal broadcast for our subscribers”.

Digiturk has also this week offered to allow subscribers to defer subscription payments until June as a result of the loss of sport. This follows the recent offer of free access to the Digiturk entertainment content to existing and new sports subscribers until the live sports content resumes.

Yousef Al-Obaidly, chief executive of Digiturk and beIN Media Group said: “At this incredibly difficult time for everyone – including for our business which is impacted more than many – we are putting our subscribers first in Turkey and making sure we do our very best for our existing customers. Today’s suite of offers – from payment freezes and deferrals to entertainment upgrades and additional services gives our customers many more choices.”

The broadcaster’s basic tier and sports package is priced at €11 for the first three months of subscription with a one-time payment of €49. All subsequent months are then priced at €19.90.