Foxtel's pay television monopoly exposed.

Seven's response to today's Foxtel statement on its closure of Fox Footy Channel and plans to move football to a new sports channel.

Seven and Ten are involved in discussions with Foxtel on financial and broadcast terms for pay television coverage of the AFL.

Foxtel is a monopoly in pay television and is currently offering less than half the current 2002-06 pay television rights fee for seasons 2007-11. Clearly, we and the AFL believe television rights for next season are worth more than they were in 2002.

In the current C7 case, Foxtel's CEO, Kim Williams, described as a "preposterous proposition" any claim that Foxtel would pay less for the same package of AFL television rights for 2007-11 than Foxtel did in 2001. In fact, Seven can confirm that Foxtel has been offered a better schedule of matches than that in the current 2002-06 agreement, including a Sunday "twilight" game.

Foxtel makes it quite clear that it will migrate AFL coverage to a new sports channel, Fox Sports 3. Why Seven or Ten or government policy that protects sports television for millions of television viewers around Australia can now be blamed for a business decision that will reduce Foxtel's costs remains an unanswered mystery.

This has nothing to do with anti-siphoning legislation and everything to do with the fact that Foxtel is making an initial offer aimed at squeezing any form of competition out of the market for sports rights.

Foxtel has offered less than half what they are currently paying for three games. They can do so because they are a monopoly.

In its statement, Foxtel makes it quite clear that the closure of Fox Footy Channel will not mean the end of football coverage, football programmes or indeed many of the people involved in their coverage.

We look forward to the next round of negotiations on pay television coverage of the AFL for seasons 2007-11.

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