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BBC suits up for pay digital sports web

Director pledges to recover lost b'cast contracts

LONDON — Attempting to revitalize its ailing sports coverage with fresh revenue, pubcaster BBC is in talks to launch a digital pay TV sports channel next year.

It has been negotiating a possible joint venture with several of its commercial rivals, which include satcaster BSkyB, cable service NTL and Channel 4.

Government approval would be required for the BBC to make its archives and current sports rights available on the new channel. Any attempt to cross-subsidize the venture with license fee money will be unacceptable to the pubcaster’s watchdogs.

BBC director of sports Peter Salmon has pledged to recover rights to premier league soccer highlights, Ryder Cup golf and England’s Six Nations rugby matches, which were recently lost to other broadcasters along with the contracts for test cricket and Formula One racing.

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