The German TV broadcaster ARD has apparently decided against any live coverage of the Tour de France this summer.
"We have reached the decision that there will be no comprehensive live reporting of the Tour de France," said ARD programme director Volker Herres to Handelsblatt.de.
The broadcaster will continue to cover the Tour in its daily news broadcast. He also seemed to leave some possibilities open, saying, "We are currently holding discussions with the EBU [European Broadcasting Union] and the cycling federations about what form our reports on the Tour de France this summer should take."
The two German broadcasters ARD and ZDF have always broadcast the Tour jointly on alternating days. They stopped showing the Tour in 2007, after Patrik Sinkewitz' positive doping control. They broadcast the Tour in 2008, but after the Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl doping cases, cancelled plans for 2009.
One problem for the German broadcasters may be a contract between the EBU and Tour organiser ASO, which calls for the Tour to be broadcast through 2011. The ARD claims not to be part of the contract, while the ZDF acknowledges its participation.
Under that contract, the two German broadcasters would be required to show the Tour on alternating days, as in the past. The ZDF has said that it cannot broadcast the Tour alone. "If the ARD climbs out, then we must climb out too, on financial, programme and production-technical grounds," said ZDF Chief Editor Nikolaus Brender. (SW)