The hitherto little known Irish TV company Setanta Sports has embarked on an aggressive expansion programme.

Not only did the Dublin-headquartered group acquire the North American Sports Network in a multimillion dollar deal earlier this month [WAMN: 09-Jun-05], it now seeks a head-on confrontation with Rupert Murdoch's UK satellite giant BSkyB.

According to the Financial Times, Setanta has offered a key job to one of the architects of BSkyB's successful sports strategy - Trevor East, deputy-managing director of the Sky Sports channel, whose current contract will shortly lapse.

Setanta's goal is to gain a slice of the TV rights to one of Europe's major soccer properties, the UK Premier League. Sky has held these rights for several years, outbidding all opposition thanks to News Corporation's bottomless coffers.

However, an intervention by the European Commission earlier this year means that TV rights for Premier League matches can no longer be controlled by a single company. Hence Setanta's interest in Eastwood.

Named after the greatest warrior in Celtic mythology, Setanta is a privately owned group, controlled by its majority shareholders and joint chief executives Frank Cronin and Niall Cogley.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff