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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
BSkyB 'facing TV football battle'
England football fans in a pub
Lucrative TV rights deals will be up for grabs in 2006
Satellite TV firm BSkyB could be about to lock horns with Irish TV group Setanta over rights to show coverage of Premier League Football matches.

Deputy managing director of Sky Sports, Trevor East, has been approached to lead sports rights acquisitions for Setanta, an FT report says.

Mr East has not yet decided whether to accept the offer, the report said.

His departure would be a major blow as BSkyB faces losing exclusive coverage rights to Premier League games in 2006.

BSkyB and Setanta declined to comment on the report in the Financial Times.

Rights clash

A new media rights contract is due to be drawn up next year by the Premier League after pressure from the European Commission (EC) to make sure there will be more than one buyer of rights to live games.

BSkyB has built its pay-TV empire around the acquisition of sports coverage rights and paid 1.02bn for its current three-year contract.

That contract, which was split into four packages, was won because BSkyB outbid other broadcasters, but now rival Setanta is reported to be keen to strengthen its portfolio of sports rights.

This week, the group secured control of North American Sports Network, which broadcasts baseball, NFL football and basketball outside of the US.

Setanta currently broadcasts Scottish Premier League games and is planning to launch a European sports channel in the US.

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