Oz nets catch football

Seven and Ten will pay $583 mil to b'cast for five years

Canwest’s Ten and Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network have snatched back rights to Australian Football League broadcasts by matching an audacious offer made by Kerry Packer just days before his death on Dec. 26.

Seven and Ten will pay A$780 million ($583 million) to broadcast all games for five years beginning in 2007. Packer had offered the same sum on behalf of his Nine Network and feevee affil Foxtel.

Seven held the right to make the first, third and final bid, allowing it to secure the rights so long as it was prepared to match Nine’s bid.

The new contract costs $209 million more than the previous one, held jointly by Ten and Nine. It’s the subject of massive litigation in which Seven is accusing Nine parent company Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd., Telstra and News Ltd. of anticompetitive practices that forced its fledgling feevee C7 out of business.

To smooth the path for this deal, Seven recently withdrew similar accusations against the AFL; Thursday, it announced it had withdrawn actions against Ten.

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