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UPC in €20m battle with Sky

Cable TV operator UPC Ireland is spending €20m in an attempt to win back subscribers from its main rival Sky.

UPC has secured two-year deals with premium sports channel ESPN and ITV in a move that will add nine channels to its digital packages.

The company is also aiming to spend €10m on a marketing campaign in the first six months of the year.

The deal will give UPC subscribers access at no extra charge to ESPN's 46 live English Premier League football matches on Saturdays, FA Cup football and Guinness premiership rugby.

France targets internet pirates

The first effects of France's new law against internet piracy will begin to be felt this year.

Illegal downloaders will be sent a warning email followed by a letter if they continue and finally must appear before a judge if they offend again.

The judge can impose a fine, or suspend their access to the internet.

The Creation and Internet Bill set up a new state agency -- the Higher Authority for the Distribution of Works and the Protection of Copyright on the Internet (Hadopi).

The law was backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy and the entertainment industry.

STT completes Eircom deal

Eircom workers will today be operating under a new owner, as Singapore Technologies Telemedia (STT) completes its acquisition of the telecommunications company.

The €140m deal to buy Eircom from its Australian owner, Eircom Holdings, was approved by shareholders before Christmas and marks the fifth change of ownership within a decade.

Radio, TV and papers team up

TV, newspaper and radio companies are to band together to create regional news bulletins on ITV.

The British government has invited bids for three pilot news services in Scotland, Wales and the north-east of England as ITV struggles to cope with increased competition from digital channels.