The Israel Football Association is set to cancel its tender for the sale of television broadcast rights to Israeli league and cup soccer games in the wake of low offers received from Channel 1 and Channel 10. Channel 2 decided not to participate in the tender.
Throughout the day yesterday IFA officials had been upbeat about the sums that would be offered, despite the withdrawal of Channel 2, but when the time came to open the bid envelopes, they were shocked to discover that Channel 10 had bid only $40,000 for the rights to broadcast the main Premier League game on a weekly basis - in total a sum of just over $1.3 million for the season. Channel 1 offered almost double, but the sum remained way under expectation.
Senior IFA sources had noted during the day that three years ago Channel 2 had paid Charlton $11 million for the main game alone, while two years ago the IFA sold the rights to the main game for $7 million.
Despite the setback acting IFA chair Avi Luzon was confident the broadcast package would eventually go for a far higher sum. "I have no doubt that we will receive $13.5 million at least for the rights," Luzon said.
Luzon is counting on Channel 2 returning to the bid process and on offers from two private bodies. The IFA claims it has offers of $13.5 million for the package from an Israeli company and an overseas bidder. "We have all sorts of alternatives. Time is on our side, and we aren't worried," a source at the IFA said.
After yesterday's fiasco the IFA's marketing team headed by Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman Loni Herzikovic called in Channel 10 and Channel 1 representatives for a meeting today. Sources close to the sides say that the television channels will be given a chance to improve their offers. The sources said that the IFA is expected to demand $5-6 million for rights to the main game. Channel 10 is believed to be willing to increase its offer; however, Channel 1 is expected to stay put. The sources added that if the IFA's expectations are not met, the tender will be canceled.
Channel 2 is believed to have made clear to senior IFA executives that if the IFA promises it exclusivity on free-to-air channels, negotiations over a deal can be concluded quickly. Sources said that Channel 2 is willing to pay $85-$100,000 per game and in addition to give the IFA $1 million worth of advertising time.
Loni Herzikovic is leading a move to have five Premier League games broadcast on pay-per-view channels on satellite and cable stations with each game costing viewers NIS 15.
The IFA is expected to favor a deal with Channel 2, as advertising time will allow it to lead a campaign to promote soccer attendance as well as advertising pay-per-view.
Channel 2 also has a higher rating than Channels 1 and 10 together.
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