StarTimes Risks Winding-up Court Order Over $11m Football Rights Debt – Report

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StarTimes, a Chinese electronics and media company with businesses in sub-Saharan Africa, is at risk of getting a winding-up court order, GlobalData is reporting.

The sports market intelligence platform reports that StarTimes has not paid BeIN Media Group for broadcasting rights to Ligue 1, the French football league.

In 2018, StarTimes signed a deal with BeIN Media Group which holds international Ligue 1 rights from 2018-19 to 2023-24 to broadcast English- and local-language Ligue 1 in sub-Saharan Africa.

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The pay-TV operator is reported to now owes BeIN $11 million, including interest.

A monthly payment plan was agreed upon between both parties after the matter was taken to court in Hong Kong before the start of the 2019-20 season, but StarTimes missed the first instalment due on October 1.

The legal representatives of both parties have not reached a conclusion and BeIN has now issued a winding-up order on Startimes.

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In the 2018-19 season, StarTimes said the tough economic climate in Africa made it difficult to pay its debts and the COVID-19 pandemic worsened its financial situation in 2020.

In addition to Ligue 1 rights, StarTimes also has non-exclusive French-language rights to LaLiga, the Spanish football league, for four years and other competitions it is showing in the 2020-21 season include Spain’s Copa del Rey, England’s FA Cup, Italy’s Coppa Italia and Europe’s Uefa Europa League and delayed 2020 European Championships.

It also has a seven-year, $7.7 million deal with the Kenyan Football Federation, the Confederation of African Football for the African Nations Championship, Extreme E motor racing series and the USA’s Impact Wrestling.

“It should be of huge concern to the industry that an entity facing winding-up proceedings is, in the same breath, parading around the world signing deals with much fanfare. We’ve seen this kind of conduct before and it only ends badly for rights-holders and the industry,” GlobalData quoted a source familiar with the legal proceedings to have said.

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StarTimes did not make any official comments on the matter.

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