OV settles suit; Rupe wins rugby

SYDNEY — Rupert Murdoch has scored again in his quest to beef up sporting rights for his Oz cabler Foxtel, fending off a lawsuit by sports-laden cable foe Optus Vision (OV) to steal away Rugby Union rights from Foxtel.

Just days into a Supreme Court action, OV, which is owned by Continental Cablevision and Kerry Packer, settled its lawsuit against Foxtel, News Corp. and Seven over feevee rights to Australian Rugby Union.

Optus claimed rights

Those rights were sold to Foxtel, but a furious OV claimed Seven should have ensured OV received the rights, owing to a deal between OV and Seven, which is a reluctant shareholder in OV.

OV was seeking large damages, injunctions against Foxtel airing the games and a voiding of the $550 million deal. Although terms of settlement have not been announced, it is understood Foxtel will retain the Rugby Union rights and may in return pay nominal damages of around $1.5 million to OV.

According to wire reports, Justice Rolfe said settlement was “sensible” and “in the best commercial interests of the parties.”

Second victory

This is Murdoch’s second significant victory in bringing more sports to Foxtel. In October, Murdoch won an appeal against a global ban on his rebel Rugby League competish, Super League, which was slapped on it in March after OV launched a ferocious legal attack against it.

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