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Swiss say 'no'

For the first time, the Swiss public will be unable to watch World Cup games on their TVs unless they have signed up to a cable or satellite subscription channel.

It follows the move by the Swiss public broadcasting corporation to shelve plans to cover the 2002 World Cup finals due to the high price being asked for the rights. The news is a blow to Swiss fans who are currently third in their group, which includes Russia, Yugoslavia and Slovenia. Public TV and radio channels in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have also chosen against transmitting live coverage of matches in the competition.

The total bill for the Swiss would have worked out at over US$6.5 million in addition to the cost of sending TV crews to the Far East. German media magnate, Leo Kirch in partnership with Swiss company ISL purchased the European rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups at a cost of US$2.24 billion, outbidding the European Broadcast Union.

Pay per view is also a distinct possibility looming on the viewing horizon for the Swiss among others. Switzerland hosted the 1954 finals and have appeared in six other World Cups.

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