German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have removed their main channels from Eutelsat’s Hot Bird satellite system at 13 degrees East due to rights restrictions regarding the FIFA Football World Cup 2014.
ZDF will transmit its digital channel ZDFneo on Hot Bird during the World Cup, a spokesman of the broadcaster told Broadband TV News.
ARD doesn’t air a replacement channel, but instead shows a text caption informing viewers that its main channel Das Erste unfortunately can’t be transmitted on this satellite during and shortly after the FIFA Football World Cup, concretely between June 12 and July 21, for licence reasons.
The German public broadcasters’ unencrypted satellite distribution on Astra (19.2 degrees East) which serves DTH satellite viewers in Germany is not affected. ARD and ZDF air all 64 World Cup games live and unencrypted on the Luxembourg-based satellite system on their main channels and on digital channels Einsfestival and ZDFinfo both in standard resolution (SD) and in high definition (HD).
The reason for the withdrawal from Hot Bird is the satellite system’s larger footprint which reaches regions not covered by Astra, specifically in the Middle East and Northern Africa where pay-TV broadcaster beIN Sports from the Al-Jazeera group has obtained the exclusive live broadcast rights from FIFA.
With the removal of their unencrypted World Cup coverage from Hot Bird, ARD and ZDF have avoided a legal dispute with the rights holder in these territories.