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BBC World axed from Oz’s Austar platform

News program replaced with local newscast

SYDNEY — In a move that has left BBC Worldwide executives seething, Denver-based UnitedGlobalCom’s Australian feevee operator Austar is yanking BBC World off its popular platform on March 31.

Austar is Oz’s second-largest feevee platform, with a monopoly in much of rural Australia. It also carries CNN and CNBC, both of which BBC World claims to outrate.

BBC World’s slot is being taken by Sky News Australia, a cheaper, locally produced channel owned jointly by (and using the resources of) Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network, Kerry Packer’s Nine Network and Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. satcaster BSkyB.

“We had to make a commercial decision and it was not possible to carry both Sky and BBC and maintain our current pricing structure,” Austar spokesman Bruce Meagher told Daily Variety.

“This is not a market-led decision,” said BBC Worldwide Asia-Pacific general manager Rob Milne, adding BBC offered incentives to Austar to continue offering the channel. “Austar has not consulted its customers and as a result our loyal regional viewers will be denied access to the channel.”

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