SPORTS

State TV to show games of most basketball clubs

After rejecting an initial offer, 10 of 14 basketball clubs competing in Greece’s top division, A1, have agreed to accept state television’s take-it-or-leave-it offer for their broadcasting rights. The 10 clubs were left without a broadcaster when Alpha Digital’s pay-TV platform collapsed earlier this month. Hesitant at first, the sides, now dismally short of cash, accepted a collective 1.76-million-euro deal made by ERT. The revenue figure – for all 10 clubs – however, is expected to reach 4 million euros with additional fees. As part of the deal, the teams also anticipate revenues from the State’s General Secretariat of Sport, the sum of which was to go to the promotion of the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as commission fees from the new Pro-Ba basketball pools. The deal, which brings national basketball league action back to state television – for all to see – following a six-year spell on pay-TV, was signed by Vassilis Economidis, the president of ESAKE, the Greek basketball’s association of professional clubs, and ERT’s Chairman Angelos Stangos. Negotiations were mediated by government officials and members of the sport’s national federation, EOK, to help steer the two sides toward the agreement. Earlier this summer, the 10 clubs – Olympiakos, Panionios, Peristeri, PAOK, Iraklion, Iraklis, Makedonikos, Larissa, Near East and Ionikos – had rejected ERT’s offer saying they would bargain for more. Stangos, ERT’s chief, responded by saying that state television was not a charity. But the clubs eventually returned to ERT after failing to receive offers from pay TV channel NetMed, which had acquired basketball’s TV rights in 1996 before seeing most of its clients defect to Alpha Digital because it promised bigger payments to televise their matches. To further bolster the national league’s finances, ESAKE is also hoping to strike a sponsorship deal with a public utility for the new season. It has asked for support from Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Lianis, the State’s top-ranked sporting official.