Premier League clubs throw out BSkyB's offer on digital television rights

The chairmen of the 20 Premier League football clubs yesterday formally threw out an offer by BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster, to extend the television rights to Premier League football to digital terrestrial television. Sky's offer is thought to have fallen a long way short of what the Premier League expects in order to extend the rights.

Sky currently has an agreement to supply British Digital Broadcasting (BDB), the digital television joint venture between Carlton and Granada which plans to start broadcasting in the autumn, with several channels of premium programmes, including its existing sports channels. Demand for BDB's service will depend heavily on whether it is able to offer Premier League football matches as part of its package of programmes.

However, Sky has yet to reach agreement with the Premier League on the terms on which it can offer those matches to BDB, even though negotiations have been continuing. "We're waiting for a package that meets our expectations," a Premier League spokesman said.

The negotiations are believed to be about payments ranging between pounds 10m and pounds 20m a year, with Sky favouring the lower figure and the Premier League plumping for a higher payout. Under its current agreement BSkyB pays the Premier League pounds 670m over five years for exclusive rights to live matches.

The deadlock is understood to be causing tensions between BSkyB and BDB. Last week, BSkyB issued a writ against Carlton and Granada, BDB's shareholders, for not paying the pounds 70m compensation to which BSkyB was entitled after it was forced to pull out of the BDB consortium, though the writ has not been served.

Last night, analysts were confident that the parties would reach an agreement eventually.

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