Altice Europe chief says RMC Sport will hold on to Champions League

Service provider Altice Europe will not surrender its hold on UEFA Champions League football rights in France, which it holds until 2021, according to CEO Alain Weill, as reported by French press.  

Alain Weill

Altice Europe, which owns the RMC Sport and BFMTV channels, has so far declined to sell the final season rights to the Champions League and Europa League to either pay TV operator Canal+ or Spanish outfit Mediapro, its main rivals in the sports rights market in France.

Weill told RMC Sport staff that Champions League matches for the next 18 months would remain with the channel, according to sports paper L’Équipe.

Mediapro CEO Jaume Roures has previously indicated that he wanted to acquire the rights to the 2020-21 seasons from Altice. Roures had declared in the pages of L’Équipe that he would like to acquire the rights to bolster the line-up of the TV channel that will launch this year as the home of French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 football, the key rights to which Mediapro holds.

Altice France however seems intent on developing RMC Sport as a football-focused offering, even without key rights, possibly through further deals similar to one with Canal+ that saw the pair agree to co-air English Premier League rights for the 2019-22 seasons.

Canal+ and BeIN Sports jointly acquired rights to the Champions League for the 2021-24 seasons at the end of last year, leaving Mediapro out in the cold.

Altice ran into trouble last year over a decision to air the final of the 1019 Champions League on news channel BFMTV to meet French rules that required the final to be made available on a free-to-air channel.

Media regulator the CSA ruled that BFMTV had broken the terms of its convention by airing the match, a ruling that was subsequently confirmed by the country’s Conseil d’État.