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French women’s handball league in rights talks with ‘Sport in France’ channel

France’s top-tier women’s handball league is in “serious discussions” with the French Olympic committee’s ‘Sport in France’ channel and the country’s National Sports Agency to broadcast the competition, rights-holder the French handball federation (FFHB) told SportBusiness Media on Monday.

“We are trying to figure out a business model,” Cécile Mantel, head of Ligue Féminine de Handball (LFH) at the FFHB, said.

Local media outlet L’Équipe reported that France’s sports minister Roxana Maracineanu set the discussions in motion following the LFH’s inability to secure coverage for the new 2019-20 season after renewal talks with pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports collapsed.

‘Sport in France’, a free-to-air channel launched in May by the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) and production company Media365, is considering how the deal could be financed given its annual budget of €2.5m.

The channel specialises in properties that do not have broadcast agreements.

L’Équipe quotes LFH president Nodjialem Myaro as saying that if the league is unable to receive revenue for its rights, it will ask any prospective broadcast partner to assume responsibility for production costs. Myaro estimates these costs at €15,000 per match, which would amount to a total of €225,000 if the new broadcaster resumed beIN’s 15-match commitment.

The LFH has also been approached by local-channel network Vià to show the competition, according to Mantel.

“We are looking for complementary broadcasts with Vià network, but not only,” she said.

The league is reportedly aiming to finalise its broadcast arrangements by October for 15-20 live matches this season.