By Elias Hazou
CyTAvision, the cable company owned by the state telecommunications authority, is shelling out millions in taxpayer money for the TV rights of football teams, some of which muster at best a few dozen fans on the stands.
Daily Alithia reports that CyTAvision struck a deal to pay first-division minnows Doxa €960,000 to broadcast the club’s matches over three seasons (2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016). The amount was contingent on the team staying in the top league for the duration of the contract.
This despite the fact the club has a tiny fan base. And before the contract was amended, CyTAvision had agreed to pay Doxa €1.2m.
In addition, Doxa was to get €855,000 for advertising CyTAvision’s platform and products for seasons 2010-2011 through 2015-2016. The amount was bumped down from initially €945,000.
The figures on TV rights and advertising expenses are contained in a confidential document obtained by Alithia.
The document had been handed over to DISY MP Georgios Georgiou, chairman of the House watchdog committee, after he requested the data from CyTA.
CyTA’s finances in relation to sports broadcasting have come under the scrutiny of the Auditor-general. In his 2013 report, Odysseas Michaelides drew attention to the lack of transparency with regard to CyTA’s criteria in agreeing TV rights and advertising agreements with football clubs.
In 2013, CyTAvision’s revenues totalled €22.1m – not even enough to cover the cost of securing TV content which came to €24.8m.
The Auditor-general went on to recommend a comprehensive review of CyTAvision’s strategy, noting that CyTA should carry out no expense unless it can be documented that it generates value for money.
Ayia Napa, currently bottom of the table, secured a contract worth €450,000 for their matches to be broadcast on the CyTAvision platform for seasons 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. Under the agreement, the amount was to be reduced in the event the team was relegated to the second division.
The contract was subsequently amended, with the amount reduced by just €30,000. However, a clause was added whereby CyTAvision would pay the club a ‘bonus’ of €25,000 if they stayed in the top division next season.
Ermis Aradippou was to receive €1.39m from CyTAvision in TV rights for seasons 2013 through 2016; the contract was subsequently modified, extending the agreement by another year and bringing the total payout up to €1.588m, although the amounts for the second and third year of the contract were reduced.
On top of that, the same club was to get €710,000 for advertising CyTAvision for seasons 2010 to 2015, although a clause stipulated a reduction should the team be relegated.
Paralimni’s TV rights came to €1.2m over three seasons (2013-2016), plus €1.66m for advertising over the period 2010 through 2016.
As for the big guns, AEL secured a TV rights contract of €2.55m (2013-2016 seasons), plus €2.179m for advertising the CyTAvision platform (seasons 2010-2016). The Limassol club would also get a €60,000 windfall if it won the local league or qualified to the Champions League group stage.
Omonia Nicosia has a contract with Primetel for their domestic fixtures, but have signed an agreement with CyTAvision for the club’s European games. Under the contract, Omonia will get €900,000 in TV rights for nine European matches, plus €1.125m for advertising CyTAvision.