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Fox digital sports nets play ball with Charter

Programming to include college & pro sports

The Fox Cable Networks Group has picked up a vote of confidence in its three digital sports networks from Paul Allen’s Charter Communications, the fourth-largest cable operator in the U.S.

Lindsay Gardner, exec VP of affiliate sales and marketing for Fox Cable Networks Group, said Charter is the first cable operator to buy the digital sports nets. The three, grouped under the name Fox Sports Digital Gold, repackage live events picked up from regional sports nets owned by Fox and feed them by satellite to cable systems with the channel capacity to offer the three to subscribers.

Programming on the digital nets includes college and professional sports like tennis and boxing. No Major League Baseball, or pro basketball or hockey games are in the mix because Fox doesn’t own the national cable rights to their games, Gardner said.

Charter plans to make available to all of its digital subscribers the Digital Gold threesome plus Fox Sports World, the network that programs international events like soccer, rugby and cricket, cablecast in English.

The key component of the deal for these digital nets, Gardner said, is Charter’s renewal of the two regional nets Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports South on analog channels in key Charter markets, including St. Louis, where the company has its headquarters.

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