The state telecommunications company Telekom Serbia has bought the rights for the broadcast of the English Premier League (EPL), also referred to as Premiership (PS) football matches on its Arena Sport channel for 100 million euro per season, in the next six years, which is almost ten times more than previously paid by the United Group SBB’s Sport Klub.
Sport Klub will still broadcast the EPL games in the 2021/22 season.
In what appears to be another odd deal, Telekom Srbija’s CEO, Vladimir Lučić told Beta news agency that the agreed price was „confidential information.“
He added the EPL wasn’t ready to accept bank guarantees so Telekom had to pay 200 million euros in advance.
The sources close to the deal said that the same rights cost Germany, Austria and Switzerland 25 million euros per season.
Nemanja Nenadic from Transparency Serbia said that there were no clear economic logic and sound market reasons for Telekom Serbia to pay so much for something that, by the nature of things, could have probably been cheaper. He added the state-owned company should disclose more details about the whole deal to the public.
Economy expert Marko Milosavljević noted the purchase of broadcasting rights was politically motivated, adding he was convinced that Vučić’s regime was using the telecommunications company to expand its influence across the Western Balkans. He said he expected the European Commission to react.
„Telekom Serbia can’t expect to make any profit from the deal after paying 600 million euro for those rights,“ Milosavljević said.
The Serbian government has an 85 percent stake in Telekom and the rest belongs to the taxpayers. Still, the management doesn’t feel obliged to explain how it can spend 600 million euros on broadcasting rights despite its 1.5 billion euros debt and profit of 35 million euros in 2020, or 17 times less than the 600 million it will pay to the ELP, and much more than the privately-owned SBB has paid for the same rights which it still holds in 2021/22 season.
This post is also available in: Italiano