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BSkyB goal: more soccer

Satcaster eyeing Premier League

LONDON — Satcaster BSkyB is reportedly offering almost £1 billion ($1.65 billion) for the rights to broadcast English Premier League soccer for the next three years.

The league currently has a $1.23 billion four-year deal with BSkyB and the BBC (which airs highlights) that still has 18 months to run and could prompt the league not to put the rights up for tender next year.

Virtually every major broadcaster in the U.K. is considered to be interested in the rights, which are the crown jewels of BSkyB’s sports programming.

In denial

Both BSkyB and the Premier League denied that negotiations have begun, but a league spokesman acknowledged that two chairmen of the league’s 20 clubs had been approached. The offer would boost payments to the league by 70% over the current contract.

One club chairman told the Financial Times: “Sky have suggested they give us more for the final year of the present deal, plus extend the contract by one or two years.”

In response, the league, which negotiates on behalf of all the clubs, issued a statement saying: “There are no offers under consideration at this stage, though we have received expressions of interest from a number of broadcasters. This current story is both speculative and premature.”

Getting in early could work in BSkyB’s favor. At present, the satcaster’s rivals are not believed ready to take on acquiring the rights to the league.