Al Jazeera Enquire About Orange Sport TV Service

July 12, 2011

France Telecom’s chief executive Stéphane Richard has confirmed that the company was in talks with Qatari satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera about a possible sale of its Orange Sport pay-television service.

Richard said: “The destiny of our sports channel is uncertain. Al Jazeera has shown an interest and talks are under way.” He said that a sale to Al Jazeera was “a plausible option” for the company but that it was too soon to make any definitive statements.

Al Jazeera’s bid for the loss-making service follows the broadcaster’s recent acquisition of a package of live rights for the top football league, Ligue 1, for US$130.5m per season for four seasons, from 2012-2013 to 2015-16. The company currently has no broadcast outlet to show the matches but has already recruited Charles Biétry, the former head of sport at pay-television operator Canal Plus, to run its French sports operations.

Orange’s talks with Al Jazeera follow months of fruitless talks with other potential buyers, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and Disney-owned sports broadcaster ESPN.