German public TV will resume broadcasting the Tour de France in 2015, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday.
According to the report, ARD will announce next week that it plans to resume broadcasting the Tour following a three-year boycott of the race due to doping scandals. ARD and its sister channel ZDF pulled their coverage of the Tour following the 2011 season.
Der Spiegel also reported that ARD will pay less than half of what it once paid for the TV rights — under 2 million euros. The deal also allows ARD to break its contract if more doping scandals erupt.
Cable channel Eurosport continued to broadcast the Tour live, but the return of a daily live over-the-air broadcast, set to start around 4 p.m. each afternoon, is seen as a boon in Germany.
Germany was rocked by doping scandals involving T-Mobile and top riders such as Jan Ullrich, Udo Bolts, and Rolf Aldag, all of whom admitted to doping during their career with the German flagship team. Exasperated by an endless stream of doping scandals, German officials finally pulled the plug on the public broadcast at the end of 2011.
The return of free over-the-air TV from the Tour is also seen as an endorsement for Germany’s newest generation of riders. Stars such as Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) all insist that doping is part of the past, and that they have never doped during their respective careers.
Degenkolb and others personally met with ARD officials and other German authorities to lobby for a return of the free broadcast.