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French Athletics Federation turns to L’Équipe as RMC rights deal ended early

L’Équipe, the free-to-air digital terrestrial channel owned by France’s Amaury Group, is to show coverage of next month’s French Athletics Championships after a contract with pay-television broadcaster RMC Sport, the incumbent rights-holder, was terminated early.

The French Athletics Federation (FFA) has agreed a short-term deal with L’Équipe for free-to-air coverage of the Championships, which will take place on September 12-13 in Albi in southern France.

L’Équipe, which has shown events from the World Athletics Continental Tour over the summer, has also picked up the rights to the Marseille Meeting on September 3.

The accord with L’Équipe was made possible after the FFA ended its agreement with the Altice-owned RMC Sport, which is in the midst of a retreat from the French sports rights market. RMC Sport’s four-year contract was due to run until the end of 2020 and was thought to be worth €1m ($1.18m) per year in rights fees and production costs.

Towards the end of the year, the FFA is expected to issue an invitation to tender for its broadcast rights from 2021 to 2024.

Souad Rochdi, the FFA director general, told L’Équipe that the federation and RMC Sport made the decision to tend the deal “by mutual agreement”.

She said: “From now on, our main objective is to be the most visible on free-to-air television during this Olympiad, culminating with the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. We are convinced that when athletics is visible, there is an audience.”

The FFA has also taken over responsibility for the host broadcast of the French Athletics Championships and the Marseille Meeting.

The French Athletics Championships will return to free-to-air television in France after a hiatus of more than a decade. RMC Sport (then SFR Sport) signed an exclusive four-year rights deal with the FFA that ran from 2017 to 2020, taking over from pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus as the rights-holder.