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New suit vs. Oz’s Galaxy

SYDNEY – The legal woes for Australis Media’s Galaxy TV look set to continue into the new year. Continental Century’s East Coast Pay TV (ECT) is the latest to file a lawsuit against the troubled satcaster.

ECT is a rural franchise of Galaxy, which throughout 1996 was plagued by liquidity crises and plunging subscriber numbers. ECT is suing Galaxy and Continental Cablevision/Kerry Packer-backed cabler Optus Vision (OV) to stop a Galaxy-OV satellite joint venture.

The Galaxy-OV pact was clinched in August for A$25 million ($20 million) as part of Galaxy’s financial rescue plan. But the deal has unleashed a new wave of litigation against Galaxy, with United Intl. Holdings’ Austar, Galaxy’s other rural franchise, also filing suit .

Rupert Murdoch’s Foxtel cabler has also filed suits, its motive being to wrestle away Galaxy’s rights to the Showtime and Encore movie channels, which are jointly owned by Paramount, Universal and Sony.

Foxtel has no premium movie rights of its own and is locked into a financially crippling deal to pay $3.5 billion to Galaxy over 25 years for cable retransmission rights to the movie channels.

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