German Soccer League suing over rights deal

A long fight with media watchdogs is expected

COLOGNE, Germany -- The German Soccer League (DFL) will sue the country's cartel office in a bid to reverse a ruling that blocked a 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) rights deal with media mogul Leo Kirch.

The ruling forced the league to settle for a less-lucrative arrangement with another party that works out to $115 million less a year for the DFL.

League president Reinhard Rauball said that he is gearing up for a long fight with Germany's media watchdogs, who he claims are inflicting "long-term harm" on the business of professional soccer here by holding down the cost of TV rights.

The DFL is expected to file suit this month, but the case could drag on for some time.

Kirch's firm, Sirius, had agreed to pay an average of 500 million euros ($656 million) a year for exclusive rights to the DFL's Bundesliga, Germany's top soccer league.

But antitrust watchdogs blocked the agreement because the Kirch deal -- set up to increase exclusivity for pay TV operators -- would have restricted Bundesliga coverage on free-to-air networks.