Italy soccer league goal is own network


ROME -- Several owners of Italian Serie A soccer clubs are in talks with the Swiss sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media to discuss creating an independent television network to broadcast games and other programming tied to the country's top soccer league.

Infront confirmed media reports that top company officials led by CEO Philippe Blatter -- the nephew of Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, the head of soccer's international governing body FIFA -- met with Serie A representatives in Milan on Tuesday.

The Serie A offices in Milan declined comment on the reports except to say that the league had multiple media strategies under consideration.

There is no indication if the talks will yield a concrete result, but they are important because they represent the first time the scandal-plagued league has considered broadcasting its own games rather than televising games through an established broadcaster.

Infront, best known for overseeing the global sales rights for last year's soccer World Cup, dramatically lost out on a €1 billion ($1.4 billion) bid for European broadcast rights to the 2010 World Cup. The company has offices in eight European countries, in addition to China and Singapore.

Italy's Serie A, meanwhile, has been rocked by scandal over the last two years -- much of it tied to the way broadcast rights are divvied up. One Serie A team -- SSC Napoli -- announced in September that it will self-broadcast games online and several other teams are considering unilateral strategies in order to sidestep the complicated strategy of assigning broadcast rights.

Combined, the 20 Serie A teams will earn an estimated €800 million ($1.2 billion) from selling broadcast rights.