German television preparing to pull the plug on Tour de France coverage?

Public broadcasters may not renew contract with ASO

German public television is ready to take the step and remove itself from Tour de France coverage. The ARD and ZDF are contractually obligated to show the Tour again this year, but they are not expected to sign on for further coverage in years to come, according to the German newspaper TAZ.

There are several reason for the lack of interest by the broadcasters. One is doping. Both broadcasters pulled the plug in 2007 after it was announced that Patrik Sinkewitz, riding for the German T-Mobile Team, had tested positive for testosterone. Alberto Contador's positive doping control from the 2010 Tour added to the negative headlines.

The German broadcasters returned to carry the Tour in 2008, as required under contracts with Tour organiser Amaury Sports Organisation. From 30 minutes per day in 2009, they were increased to a total of 60 minutes in 2010. The ASO has let it be known that the broadcasters are expected to carry a minimum of one hour live coverage daily.

The reduced broadcasting time could also be related to the second reason, the drop in viewers. Fans could watch full coverage of the race on the private broadcaster Eurosport. In addition, after Jan Ullrich's retirement in 2007, there were no further German riders seen as capable of winning the Tour.

A further ground, according to the newspaper, is that b both ARD and ZDF are trying to save money by cutting back on live broadcasting of sports events. The ZDF has stopped its boxing programmes, and neither will broadcast live the upcoming track and field world championships, a staple in German television for years.

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