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By | May 23, 2001

      RTL Television, Germany’s leading commercial broadcaster, has revealed making a large financial loss this year due to its coverage of the Champions League football tournament. On average, only around 5.85 million viewers watched games on the channel, which fell far short of covering the cost of the DM100 million (E51.1 million) it pays each season for rights to the competition.

      According to RTL’s chief editor, the channel now aims to persuade the European governing football body UEFA to change the Champions League and in particular limit the unattractive group and intermediate round games. In his view, “the current mode and costs are not financially viable for any TV broadcaster in the long run” and the Cologne-based service should call the coverage of games without German teams into question. Indeed, “the question is whether such games really need to be transmitted live. The Champions League must not be diluted by games which viewers are not much interested in”.

      In a separate development, RTL, along with Sat 1, Pro Seiben and Kabel 1, have decided not to take part in Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), the electronics fair due to take place in Berlin between August 25 and September 2. According to a Sat 1 spokeswoman, the costs of participating are too high, with the channel being required to pay around DM5 million. An RTL spokesman, on the other hand, has explained that the fair is increasingly developing into an electronics and multimedia exhibition, with television no longer at its focus.

      The organisers of IFA, which takes place every two years and attracts over 900 companies (including the pay-TV operator Premiere World) from over 30 countries, have issued a statement deploring the broadcasters’ decision.

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