ZDF seeks damages for soccer blackout

Euro 2008 telecast interrupted by electrical storm

BERLIN -- German public broadcaster ZDF is demanding compensation from the European soccer association UEFA for the television blackout during Germany's semifinal match against Turkey on June 25 at the European Soccer Championships.

Stormy weather in Vienna knocked out power in UEFA's transmission center, causing screens around the world carrying the game to go dark and leading, according to ZDF, to massive damage to the channel's professional image.

ZDF reacted quickly, tapping a clear signal from Swiss Television, but the pictures remained slightly out of sync with the color commentary, which had to be done via a private telephone line.

UEFA confirmed that several channels around the world were seeking compensation for the blackout. ZDF, however, can likely make the best case for damages as the match was the most important event of the year for the channel.

About 30 million Germans, some 80% of the total audience, were watching when the lights went out. Turkish television got its pictures directly from the Swiss feed so was not affected by the power failure.