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Brazil issues decree placing TV rights back in clubs’ hands

Bruno Henrique of Flamengo in action at Maracana Stadium on November 3, 2019 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Wagner Meier/Getty Images)

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has issued a decree that markedly alters the media rights landscape for the country’s football clubs.

The proposed law would see home teams in Brazil take full control of their media rights without the need to negotiate with the away team in situations where the two teams had individually-negotiated agreements with different broadcasters.

The text of the decree states that the clubs would be allowed to “negotiate, authorise or prohibit the capture, fixation, transmission or reproduction of images, by any means or process, of the sporting spectacle”.

Clubs would also be able to sign shirt sponsorship deals with media companies in an overturning of a law that has been in place since 1998.

The law would also permit clubs to broadcast home matches on their own TV channels.

The decree will remain in effect for the next 60 days and then another 60-day period but still requires ratification from the Brazilian Congress in order to become law.

The move by Bolsonaro came ahead of the start of the Carioca Championship, the state championship in Rio de Janeiro, and amid a dispute between Brazilian commercial broadcaster Globo and Flamengo over coverage of the side’s match against Bangu.

Globo, which holds rights deals with various clubs, has said that the new legislation would not affect contracts that have already been signed or competitions to which rights have already been assigned by clubs for current or future seasons.

The broadcaster has also threatened legal action against “any attempt to violate its acquired rights”.

Globo also issued a statement last night challenging that the decree would allow Flamengo to show its matches on FlaTV, it’s in-house channel.

The broadcaster said: “Globo does not hold the rights to Flamengo’s games and therefore will not broadcast them. Likewise, Flamengo will not be able to broadcast any of its games…because Globo owns the rights of the other clubs participating in the Carioca Championship.

“Even if Globo had the rights to broadcast the game today, there would be no time to plan the safety of the teams that carry out the broadcast, and it is not clear that the protocol proposed by [the government] is, in fact safe.”

Globo rights over vast swathes of Brazilian football which include free-to-air and pay-per-view rights to all 20 Campeonato Serie A clubs and pay-television rights of 12 clubs. Turner holds the pay-television rights to the remaining eight clubs.