Going public

Canal 7: the new face of Argentine football broadcasting
Canal 7: the new face of Argentine football broadcasting

The financial stand-off which last week forced the AFA to announce that Argentina’s first division championship wouldn’t be able to start this coming weekend has taken a step towards concluding on Tuesday, with the news that the clubs are to break away from the TV deal signed with TyC Sports. A new financial package has been put on the table by the Argentine government, which will see Argentina’s top flight becoming the only one in South America to be screened on a public TV network. The football will start on the 21st of August… or that’s what’s being claimed for now.

At a meeting with club directors in Ezeiza, Julio Grondona convinced the clubs’ representatives that the way round the crisis was to unilaterally tear up the contract with TyC Sports – which was set to run until 2014 – by which the broadcaster had exclusive rights to live matches in the Primera División. Suddenly, the exact motivation behind all Grondona’s talks with members of government – including Argentine President Cristian Fernández de Kirchner – are revealed.

Previously, the two sides had made ambiguous noises about some sort of state aid to the clubs. Now it’s a little clearer, though: the state will pay the AFA one hundred million Argentine pesos (a little over US$26,000,000) on signing the contract, and a further five hundred million (US$130.7 million, give or take) over the duration of the contract. TyC Sports are unlikely to be overly happy with this – the official announcement isn’t going to be made until Tuesday evening, partly to allow the clubs to steel themselves for the fallout – but the fact that government intervention is involved is likely to smooth the passage through the courts of the decision on the AFA’s part to tear up the contract.

Grondona has promised the clubs that the AFA will bear the brunt of any anger and legal actions on the part of the broadcaster, which given his connections will also help things. The precise channel on which matches will be screened hasn’t yet been decided on, and will depend in no small part on how quickly the infrastructure and technology required can be updated, but the weekend of Friday, 21st August has been stated as a provisional deadline on which to work, and is expected to be met. Canal 7 is the most likely broadcaster, with Telefé already ruled out as a possibility.

There will be football, then. Julio Grondona has decreed it. What will happen if another financial crisis looms with the new broadcasters in a couple of years, who knows? The TV people might think Argentine football was their game, but they’re wrong. For all Monday night’s sloganeering about ‘football for the people’, this league belongs to Don Julio.

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5 thoughts on “Going public

  1. It will be nice to see futbol but what a quilombo ! So many subplots involved that it is hard to keep track of them all. Primary among them, it gives the current government a way to infuriate the Clarin group, with whom it has had a running, very nasty relationship for years. I’m curious to see who the broadcasters will be for nationalized futbol. Will some of the TYC broadcasters be hired ? Can they break a contract with TYC as well ? How about cameramen ? The government will have to line up advertisers, unless we will be able to see completely commercial free futbol. Not likely !!

    The positive for me is that I’ll be able to cancel my subscription for the TYCMAX channel. Also, it will be much easier to find a bar/resto showing games now. No searching and searching for a place that has TYCMAX.

  2. Great for people in Argentina, not so good for those of us outside the country.
    Canal 7 only has one channel, right? So it won’t be possible to televise every game.
    Many times there has been a choice between, say, Boca v Banfield and Lanús v Gimnasia, there was always a chance to see the non-Boca game, but now will it just be wall-to-wall River and Boca?
    Also, many of the stream broadcasters were in the US and other parts of South America, broadcasting TyC Internacional. So there won’t be as many streams.

    Mind you, if this happend in England, with the FA and Alistair Campbell hatching out a deal to take live Prem away from Sky and put it on the BBC, Labour’s poll ratings would get a sudden jump… so it looks like a pretty clever move by the Ks, after they didn’t do so well in the recent elections.

  3. I guess the big question for many of us, which you brought up in your points Matt, is what does it mean for those of us following Argentine football from abroad?

    In the short term, it seems likely to limit our options, but could this mean that in the long run, rights to these matches might be made available more broadly?

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if TyC still ends us with a piece of this new pie as well. As you’ve all pointed out, you can’t show all of the matches in any single network and no one else in Argentina has TyC’s infrastructure (cameras, staff, existing channels)

    It does spell doom for TyC if they don’t get some of the football back. Who’s going to want to subscribe to TyC MAX at all?

  4. The lack of info about the international broadcasting of argentine primera has me worried the most right now, now i’ve gone from being able to watch one game live only and now none at all. argh.

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