BSkyB buys Football League rights

$144 mil pact replaces ITV Digital deal

LONDON — Satcaster BSkyB has sealed a four-year TV rights deal with England’s Football League for £95 million ($144 million).

The contract replaces the one the second tier of English professional soccer had with the now defunct paybox ITV Digital.

That deal, struck in 2000, was worth a whopping $479 million over three years and is viewed as the key reason ITV Digital, which shuttered in April, became financially untenable.

The league is in the process of suing ITV Digital’s owners, Carlton Communications and Granada, for $271.6 million in damages. The case will come to court July 26.

Under the new agreement, BSkyB will air 60 league matches per year, beginning next month, to the 2005-6 season.

The satcaster already held the rights to the Premiere League, the top rung of English soccer.

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