Cable and Satellite Council Awards Couch Potatoes Victory

Sports viewers will soon be able to enjoy more games for less money, thanks to a decision by the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting to reduce the scope of pay-per-view events. The change constitutes a blow to the Sports Channel and to the Charlton company, who were accused of allowing live games to "trickle" from basic to premium sports channels.

The council issued a new regulation yesterday to consolidate live broadcasts of soccer, tennis and basketball onto four channels instead of six - at no additional charge - beginning in June 2009. These channels are Sport 5, Sport 5+, Sport 1 and Sport 2.

"The average sports fan will get more live, attractive broadcasts of the main branches of sports, without having to pay a premium," said Nitzan Chen, the council's chairman.

The two companies plan to fight the new rule on the claim that revenue from the premium channels allows investment into original productions and acquiring broadcast rights for the basic channels. "We intend to use all means possible to correct the distortions appearing in this decision," said a spokesperson for the Sports Channel.

Within the coming month, the council will set criteria for broadcasting for non pay-per-view games played by the various Israel national teams as well as contests featuring Israeli teams playing in European competition.

The two channels losing live broadcasts are 5+ Live and 5+ Gold, which the Sports Channel and the Charlton company launched originally as a classics and sports news channel, respectively. However, over time these premium channels started airing important games, inducing fans to open their wallets.