TV Globo says roughly 8 million households equipped with satellite dishes to receive C band won?t be able to watch the World Cup soccer finals beamed next month from Japan and Korea, blaming contractual obligations similar to those that prevent the broadcasting of certain heavyweight title challenges, for example.
On the other hand, rumor has it that the nation?s top broadcast TV network will risk breach of contract so as not to lose this audience. Some even say Globo is planning to sell commercial slots specifically for C band. But this week a spokesperson for Globo told PAY-TV News there?s no truth in the rumors. Viewers who normally receive broadcasts from Brasilsat B1 won?t be able to watch World Cup 2002, the spokesperson said, because the signal will be encoded.
Globo is well aware that owners of C-band dishes will be upset at the news, but insists on fulfilling the contract it has signed with the organizers of the event. The agreement includes a clause specifically requiring Globo to encode the signal from Brasilsat B1 to prevent neighboring countries from capturing and retransmitting matches without permission. This is a common occurrence with Globo?s soap operas and movies, which are easily watched by guests at hotels over the border and illegally delivered by pay-TV operators to subscribers in Paraguay, Guyana etc.
The rumors of encoding are fairly old and were strengthened recently by the news that Globo has postponed digitization of signals sent to affiliates until the end of May. Digitization involving another satellite will reduce signal quality losses relating to conversion and content transport. Although most of the equipment involved has been cleared through customs, it will take time until digital signals from the headend can be received by regional stations. According to sources inside Globo, regardless of digitization Brasilsat B1 will continue to carry analog signals for another ten years or so, basically for users of C band. If Globo keeps its word, the only way these users can watch the World Cup will be by subscribing to Sky or a local pay-TV operator that carries the SporTV channel (owned by Globo).