Al Jazeera awarded French football rights

PARIS - The French professional football league said on Thursday it had awarded part of the broadcast rights from 2012 through 2016 of the French Ligue 1 matches to Vivendi's Canal+ unit and Arab satellite network Al Jazeera.

The league sold the five lots for a total of 510 million euros, its President Frederic Thiriez told a news conference.

The league, which had hoped to gather enough interest to at least match the 668 million euros per year it received under the current contract, which expires next year, said the remaining four lots did not reach the minimum prices the league expected.

Canal+ won lots one to four, which means it can broadcast a Saturday afternoon game and a Sunday evening game.

Al Jazeera won lot five, which means it can broadcast a Friday evening game and a Sunday game.

The league said it will soon start talks to award the remaining lots.

Earlier this week the league said it received offers from Canal+, France Telecom's Orange unit and Al Jazeera.

The broadcast rights are a key source of income for France's financially strained football clubs, suffering from a drop in match ticket sales and a depressed transfer market.