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Nine and Fox Sports at loggerheads over NRL Grand Final day coverage

Australia’s National Rugby League is engaged in a legal dispute with pay-television operator Fox Sports and commercial broadcaster Nine over coverage plans for the build-up games to Sunday’s Grand Final, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The Manly Sea Eagles take on the Sydney Roosters in Sunday’s season finale, but Fox is understood to be claiming exclusive rights to the day’s preliminary games – the NSW Cup and Holden Cup – as part of its new rights deal with the league.

Nine and Fox in August 2012 signed five-year deals, from 2013 to 2017, collectively worth A$1.025bn (€717.1m/$957.5m), or A$205m per year.

Nine, which will show the Grand Final, is said to have insisted that all games will be shown on free-to-air television, as has traditionally been the case.

However, Fox Sports chief executive Patrick Delany has responded by issuing a legal warning to the NRL to protect the broadcaster’s exclusivity.

The NRL’s commercial and marketing director Paul Kind said he was confident of resolving the dispute before Sunday.

“It’s not the first time there has been a disagreement between the broadcasters,” Kind said. “I’m very confident that both Fox Sports and Channel Nine will be showing the games.”