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BSkyB loses sports topper

East signs with rival net Setanta

LONDON — Blighty satcaster BSkyB, Europe’s largest pay TV biz, is losing sports topper Trevor East to rival Setanta Sports, the Irish-based global spots net.

East, one of the key figures at Sky in securing soccer rights, is joining Setanta as director of sport.

The 54-year-old veteran has worked at Sky for a decade where he was deputy-managing director of sport.

Before that he had spent more than 20 years at U.K. terrestrial web, ITV, rising to head of sport.

With TV negotiations due to start soon over the rights to English Premier League soccer matches, and indications that the European Union may force BSkyB to share coverage, East’s defection to Setanta could not come at a more sensitive time for the Murdoch-owned satcaster.

“I am joining Setanta at this point in their development because I believe the company has the potential to be a major player in sports broadcasting internationally,” East said in a statement.

Setanta operates channels in seven countries.

BSkyB’s exclusive coverage of Premier League games has been crucial to its success. Its present contract with the league expires in 2007.

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