Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Monday, 4 May 2009 11:25 UK

Setanta in talks on sport rights

Steven Gerrard playing for England against Slovakia
Setanta shows some England games as well as Premier League and FA Cup

The Irish pay-TV broadcaster Setanta is trying to renegotiate its contracts to screen sporting events, as it tries to deal with cash-flow problems.

It is due to pay the Football Association £35m on 15 May for the rights to broadcast its games.

There has been concern among investors after it managed to secure new rights for only half of the live Premier League games it currently broadcasts.

But the company has said there is no question of it defaulting on payments.

"We've been in productive talks with our rights partners including the FA and they have all been terrific, without exception," Setanta's director of sport Trevor East told the Independent newspaper.

"We're still talking about what can be achieved, but there is no question of us defaulting on any payments," he added.

Recession victim?

Setanta currently shows 46 live Premier League games per season, but from 2010 it will have only 23 matches, which is expected to cut its subscriber base.

The broadcaster has a joint contract with ITV to show the FA Cup and England football internationals.

Setanta has also been a long-time partner of top-flight Scottish football and has a new, four-year, £125m deal with the SPL due to start in 2010.

That deal, signed last year, is also reported to be subject to renegotiation talks between Setanta and the SPL.

In addition, Setanta has exclusive rights to show matches from the Blue Square Premier, the top flight of English non-League football - which is a major source of income for these clubs.

But analysts have suggested that Setanta will be hit hard by the recession because cash-strapped sports fans may give up their subscriptions.

However the fees the broadcaster must pay for the rights to show sporting events will be unaffected.

"In the recession you keep your Sky because that's the number one, but if you're the number two, which is nice to have in addition... then that means you're not going to get the same number of subscribers," said Toby Syfret, media analyst at Enders Analysis.

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