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Ziggo’s carriage talks with Fox Sports deadlocked

Dutch telco Ziggo’s carriage negotiations with pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports are deadlocked, with the former unwilling to meet the latter’s revised payments model.

Ziggo’s director of strategy, Robin Kroes, told Radio 1, the Dutch public-service radio channel, that the telco “is not going to pay more than we do now”.

Fox Sports shows exclusive live coverage of the Dutch top-tier Eredivisie football league in a 12-season deal running from 2013-14 to 2024-25.

Eredivisie Media & Marketing’s carriage model, which was introduced ahead of the 2016-17 season, requires platforms to make payments based on its total number of subscribers, regardless of whether the subscriber watches Fox Sports Eredivisie.

The industry has dubbed this arrangement the ‘Eredivisie tax’. Kroes said that the revised terms mean Ziggo would have to pay three times more to carry Fox Sports than it currently does. The telco’s existing carriage agreement expires at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Ziggo currently has 300,000 customers who subscribe to Fox Sports channels, so it could potentially see a significant fall in revenues if the carriage agreement is not renewed.

Fox Sports said about the deadlock: “We would like to continue the cooperation, based on the same agreements that were made four years ago with the rest of the TV providers.”

Fox Sports’ ability to make concessions to Ziggo is restrained by the fact it has already concluded contracts under the revised terms with rival telecoms operators KPN and Caiway. Both are likely to seek a renegotiation of terms if Ziggo renews on more favourable terms.

KPN and Caiway had taken its concerns over Fox’s carriage terms to the Dutch courts. But a judge ruled last year that the country’s competition regulator was not required to launch an investigation into Fox Sport’s carriage agreement model for its Eredivisie premium channels.

Telco Tele2 does not carry Fox Sports after deciding three years ago not to accept the new carriage model.

The Eredivisie season was cancelled in April due to the Covid-19 pandemic.