Foxtel to carry Aussie football


SYDNEY -- Australian pay TV operator Foxtel will pay the Seven and Ten Networks up to AUS$365 million ($281 million) over the next five years to broadcast four games a week of the national Australian Football League competition in a deal struck Thursday, just six weeks ahead of the start of the 2007 competition and after nearly 14 months of negotiation.

Seven and Ten were the successful bidders to the five-year AFL broadcast contract in December 2005, paying a record AUS$780 million ($600 million) and outbidding rival Nine Network, but were unable to fit a full round of eight games a week into their schedules.

The Fox Sports channel will broadcast four of the eight AFL games a week live around the country via Foxtel and its rural counterpart Austar, while Seven and Ten will broadcast two games a week each and will share the exclusive rights to the finals series and the Grand Final, usually Australia's top-rated sports event .