NTL Eyes Premier League

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New York -- British cable- and telephone-service provider NTL Inc. plans to bid aggressively for Premier League Soccer rights, adding that its bidding strategy may also include driving up the price for games for rival British Sky Broadcasting Group plc.

NTL chairman James Mooney, speaking at the UBS Warburg LLC Global Media conference here Wednesday, said NTL believes it will be the successful bidder on three of the six packages of Premier League games being put out for bid. And he added that the right bidding strategy could help to drive up the cost for BSkyB.

“A lot of profit is currently all being garnered in [BSkyB’s] P&L, which the right bidding strategy will exploit, and I’ll leave it at that,” Mooney said.

Earlier this year, the European Commission ruled that BSkyB, which has controlled nearly all Premier League games, would lose that monopoly beginning in 2007. According to reports in the British press, games will be split into six packages of 23 games each, and no single bidder will be allowed to win more than five of the six packages.

Separately, Mooney said the company’s planned merger with Telewest Global Inc. is moving ahead, and it should receive government approval late in the first quarter of 2006.

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