Setanta administration looms

By Julian Clover | June 7, 2009

The Setanta Sports channels could have just days left on the air. The troubled broadcaster has appointed accountancy firm Deloitte that could place it into administration if agreement cannot be reached with rights holders and investors.

Setanta has until tomorrow to pay the latest £3 million instalment on its £31m agreement with the Scottish Premier League. A £35 million instalment is due to be paid to the English Premier League on June 15.

There are also satellite distribution contracts with Arqiva and Globecast together with the Virgin Media JV Setanta Sports News, produced by ITN.
Setanta is believed to have 1.2 million premium customers, some 500,000 shy of the total needed for breakeven. In excess of two million subscribers are also able to access the channel under “feels like free” agreements with Virgin, BT Vision and Top Up TV.

The problems facing the Dublin-based broadcaster echo the situation that surrounded ITV Digital, the terrestrial pay-TV platform that collapsed in 2002, owing £178.5m to the Football League.