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Turner suspends rights fee payments to eight Brazilian clubs

The Brazilian arm of US-based broadcaster Turner is reported to have suspended pay-television broadcast rights fee payments to eight Brasileiro Série A clubs.

Turner has suspended its payment of R$104m ($18m/€16.6m) to the eight clubs, namely Palmeiras, Internacional, Santos, Bahia, Fortaleza, Ceará, Coritiba and Athletico-PR. The figure represents half of the agreed sum which the clubs were guaranteed before the Covid-19 crisis shutdown professional sports, according to UOL.

Half of the total Turner sum was due to be paid in instalments across May, June and July. The remaining 50 per cent is then split according to league position (25 per cent) and the number of televised matches each club has taken part in (25 per cent).

The broadcaster’s relationship with the eight clubs has been growing increasingly strained in recent months and has been exacerbated by the global pandemic.

In early April, it was reported that the Turner was seeking to cancel its contracts with these clubs. The move to suspend the rights payments has been viewed by some clubs as the latest mechanism in an attempt to force a termination.

Rights to the Brasileiro Série A are sold in three tranches; pay-television, free-to-air and pay-per-view.

Turner’s proposal come against a backdrop of already reduced revenue for the clubs as Brazilian media group Globo has reduced fees it holds for the same clubs’ free-to-air and pay-per-view rights. Globo holds the pay-television rights to the remaining 12 clubs, as well as free-to-air and pay-per-view rights to all 20 clubs.

Globo’s fee reduction affects all 20 Série A clubs and is said to have included reduced monthly free-to-air rights payments of R$396,769 per club between April and June, rising back up to R$1.12m in July. By the end of the currently scheduled season end in December, payments would total R$7.94m to each club.

Globo agreed individual club deals from 2019 to 2024 worth a total of R$1.1bn per year for free-to-air and pay-television rights. This is divided among clubs as follows: 40 per cent in fixed monthly payments; 30 per cent according to the number of matches broadcast; and 30 per cent according to where a team finishes in the league.

The media group previously suspended payments for rights to the Paulista state league.