Three of Australia’s most powerful media players have formed a consortium to operate a satellite pay TV license. Kerry Packer’s Nine network, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited (the local arm of News Corp.) and Telecom announced a joint tender for one of the two available licenses, bids for which close this week.

According to a spokesperson, talks with the Seven and Ten commercial webs and other partners are continuing. However, the involvement of all three free-to-air webs in a satellite license may breach Trade Practices regulations. The full roster of the consortium will only be announced when the bids are in.

The corporate mix makes for a forceful entry into the new medium with News supplying programming out of its Fox and BSkyB operations and Packer supplying downlink expertise via his SkyTV satellite service and local program production facilities. As for Telecom’s involvement, the company is currently wired in 96% of Aussie homes and is claiming that 80% of those outlets are within 750 yards of a fiber-optic connection. With a true cable system said to be less than two years away, obviously the trio is looking beyond the initial stage of digital satellite delivery.

Packer is understood to have the dominant holding while News, considered a foreign partner because Murdoch’s a naturalized American, is limited to 20%.

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