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Pro League collective selling regime shaken by Belgacom rights deals

Belgian pay-television operator Belgacom has announced exclusive rights deals for the home matches of Sporting de Charleroi and Waasland-Beveren, the newly-promoted clubs in Belgian football’s top-tier league, the Pro League, in the 2012-13 season.

The deals were agreed directly with the clubs and appear to be a blow for Belgacom’s pay-television rivals Telenet and Voo. Telenet last summer acquired non-exclusive rights for the matches of the rest of the clubs in the Pro League in a collectively-agreed deal covering the period 2011-12 to 2013-14. Telenet, which operates only in the Flemish-speaking Flanders region of Belgium, sublicensed rights for all its matches to Voo in the French-speaking Wallonia region. Belgacom also acquired non-exclusive rights along with Telenet and Voo for five simultaneous weekly Saturday evening matches for the same period.

The league’s chief executive Ludwig Sneyers, said that the league considered collective selling the best way to bring increased revenues to clubs and that it would seek to ensure all matches of the upcoming season are made available on Telenet and Voo.

“The Pro League and its clubs have always considered that the solidarity between the clubs in First Division with regard to TV broadcasting is the best way to add value to the clubs to offer and allow them to provide the necessary funds for their sporting development,” he said.

“The Pro League will do everything in their power to maintain this solidarity and ensure that all matches will be available on Sporting Telenet and VOOfoot.”

Belgacom currently sponsors both Sporting de Charleroi and Waasland-Beveren, and both clubs credited the support of the pay-television operator as factors in their successful promotion campaigns last season.