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Cable operators pull Ecuadorian league coverage amid GolTV dispute

Ecuadorian cable television operators CNT TV, Claro TV and TV Cable have ceased broadcasting the Ecuadorian Serie A, the top tier of domestic club football, amid a dispute with the rights-holder, pay-television broadcaster GolTV.

The decision came as the 2020 season restarted behind closed doors with the fifth round of fixtures at the weekend, having been suspended in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The three operators have taken their stance not to broadcast games due to alleged breaches of their commercial agreements with GolTV, along with the latter’s intention to raise the cost of their carriage deals, according to the Info Cancha website.

The state-owned CNT said that it had terminated its agreement with GolTV after “six months of technical analysis, requests for information from GolTV without response and the requirement to achieve a better economic balance in the contract”.

CNT asserted: “Through the document signed between the parties, on 20 June 2018, the exclusive web transmission rights were granted to CNT until December 2019; exclusivity that was not fulfilled. GolTV ceded this category of sports content to others, affecting the company’s revenue and strategic planning.”

CNT has called on LigaPro, the professional league body, and GolTV to “reach a fair economic agreement between the parties that allows us to continue to provide the content to football fans”.

In response to the decision by the cable operators, GolTV said that – although it has “faithfully complied with all the obligations assumed contractually and therefore the arguments made against us do not correspond” – it would continue to make the broadcast signal available to the telecoms operators.

The broadcaster said that it “reaffirms its commitment to democratise access to the Ecuadorian football league and to empower its participants, as has been held since 2018”.

GolTV also underlined that it reserves the right to take legal action.

GolTV holds the broadcast rights to the top two divisions of Ecuadorian club football from 2018 to 2027.

The rights were awarded in early 2018 after the annulment of GolTV’s previous deal and an initial vote that awarded the rights to rival DirecTV. GolTV’s deal is worth a minimum guarantee of $314m (€265.1m) over 10 years.

In May, GolTV committed to fulfilling its rights payments to Serie A clubs. The 2020 season was suspended by LigaPro on March 14 because of the pandemic but GolTV insisted it would keep up its payments.