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Turner ‘bids to terminate’ Brasileiro club rights deals

Carlos Sanchez of Santos celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during a match against Bahia in the 2019 Brasileirao Serie A (by Miguel Schincariol/Getty Images)

US-based media group Turner is seeking talks with the eight Campeonato Brasileiro Série A football clubs with which it holds broadcast rights deals, with a view to exiting the contracts ahead of the 2020 season.

Turner sent a letter to the eight clubs – Palmeiras, Internacional, Santos, Bahia, Fortaleza, Ceará, Coritiba and Athletico-PR – on April 3, reports the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.

Turner holds pay-television rights to the clubs’ games until 2024 and is said to have initially made contact with the clubs in November, with only Athletico-PR responding at the time.

Turner said in a statement: “Turner sent on Friday, April 3, a notification to the clubs with which it has a contract to display the 2020 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. This letter reiterates what has already been put to the clubs in November 2019, about what we had almost no response, and asks that they come and talk to Turner to resolve outstanding issues.

“There are certain obligations that Turner wishes to reinforce, including commitments made by clubs that are essential for Turner to create a sustainable business model.

“Turner proposes a new conversation, while not neglecting the actions necessary to defend their rights. Turner has always prioritised dialogue and believes in a joint solution.”

Estado said the talks will likely lead to the contract being ended, the clubs regaining the rights and potentially passing them on to commercial broadcaster Globo, which holds rights deals with other Brazilian clubs. Some clubs have sold their free-to-air rights to Globo and their pay-television rights to Turner. Pay-per-view rights have also been sold in the individually-negotiated agreements.

Santos president José Carlos Peres said: “The clubs are losing a lot of money with Turner and I think it is also losing money with Brazilian football. We will listen and negotiate. I think the clubs want the termination.”

He added: “Santos loses money. Termination is the best way. The clubs are already meeting to present a proposal to the company. The break will be good for both parties.”

In 2018, Turner ceased the linear television operations of its Brazilian sports broadcaster Esporte Interativo and moved to a digital-only model.

It was revealed last week that Globo had suspended payment of the final rights instalment for certain state championships. This included payments to Federação Paulista de Futebol, governing body of football in the state of São Paulo, due to the suspension of the Campeonato Paulista amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Globo has stated that it has so far maintained payments to clubs competing in the top two national leagues.

The 2020 Série A season is currently scheduled to commence on May 3.