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BSkyB competitors plot challenge for football rights

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Pay-TV service British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC looks set to face a fresh challenge for the right to screen live Premier League football from cable companies and private equity groups, the Financial Times reported.

Without citing sources, the FT said cable operators NTL and Telewest are keen to team up in a joint bid, while private equity groups, including Benchmark Capital, have also expressed an interest.

'There is a group of UK broadcasters and cable operators looking at this, although it could take weeks or months to put something together,' the newspaper quoted an unnamed TV executive as saying.

Other potential competitors for live football rights include Irish subscription TV company Setanta Sports.

The FT report comes as EU regulators are discussing ways of restructuring the sale of live Premiership football rights in an effort to ensure that they are no longer held by a single broadcaster. BSkyB's current exclusive three-year deal, worth 1 bln stg to the Premier League, expires at the end of the 2006/07 season.

Source: Forbes