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Top Up TV signs deal with ESPN to broadcast Premier League football

TOP UP TV, the media group that offers premium content to Freeview, yesterday signed a carriage deal with ESPN to show top football this season and signalled that it hoped to offer subscribers Sky Sports 1 &amp; 2 by the end of the first half of next year.<br /><br />Top Up founder and former BSkyB stalwart David Chance said he hoped to be offering subscribers Sky Sports 1 for &ldquo;under &pound;20&rdquo; following the implementation of a deal being worked on between Ofcom, the industry regulator, and pay television providers.<br /><br />Top Up TV, BT Vision and Virgin Media have long argued that BSkyB is reluctant to offer its premium sports channels and if it does, only at rates which make it difficult to pass on to customers at a profit. <br /><br />Ofcom recently agreed with this and proposed imposing deals in which BSkyB will be forced to offer the channels, known as the &lsquo;battering rams of pay tv&rsquo;, on more attractive terms. <br /><br />Top Up is offering the ESPN channel that will show 46 Premier League matches this season for &pound;10 a month, with the first month being available for free.<br /><br />But key to the growth of Top Up TV and rival BT?Vision is the provision of BSkyB&rsquo;s main sports channels, Sky Sports 1 &amp; 2, which show the majoirty of live football, cricket and rugby action.<br /><br />Top Up TV was in discussions with BSkyB in December 2005 over the provision of the satellite group&rsquo;s sports channels but gave up after not being offered a wholesale deal. It then sought the intervention of Ofcom.