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Canal Plus and Al Jazeera take French football rights

Pay TV operator Canal Plus and Al Jazeera have secured rights to air French football matches following the award of the first five lots of rights by the country’s professional football league, the LFP.

The league has secured about €510 million a year for the rights to matches from the 2012-16 seasons, with Canal Plus taking four packages and Al Jazeera one. Canal Plus has obtained the first choice of two live matches each weekend, while Al Jazeera will take the third and fourth games. Al Jazeera, which already held international rights to French football, now has, for the first time, the right to air Friday evening and Sunday afternoon championship games in France itself. The broadcaster is planning to launch a French sports channel to air the games, reportedly to be headed by former Canal Plus executive Charles Biétry.

Canal Plus has reduced the amount it will pay to the LFP each year from €468 million to €420 million and has given up the rights to six pay-per-view matches broadcast on the Foot Plus service.

The remaining four packages, covering rights for mobile devices, have yet to be allocated following the failure of potential buyers including Orange to offer the reserve price.

The LFP has been hoping to retain the €668 million a year it previously achieved through a division of the rights to the 2008-11 seasons between Canal Plus and Orange. However, this had been thrown into doubt by the withdrawal of the latter from bidding for premium sports rights.

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