The Nine Network and its Fox Sports
associate, Premier Media, are trying to pull a fast one with the 2007
Rugby World Cup, with the help of Lynton Taylor, the former Nine
executive who’s now back at the network after running World Cup rights
at Trans World International (TWI), the country’s leading sports
production company.

It’s assumed that Taylor’s inside knowledge
has gained Nine an inside running, but no-one can explain why, unless
it’s an attempt to get round the anti-syphoning laws, like Fox Sports
(and Nine) attempted to do with the Ashes.

Seven, which had the
World Cup in 2003 and 1999, were told by TWI last Friday not to make a
bid: they were out of the running. Nine says it hasn’t won anything and
the decision hasn’t been made.

But cynics suggest that by having
Nine and Fox Sports make a joint offer, the anti-syphoning laws can be
circumvented. All Nine has to do is to show the odd game or three, with
Fox Sports having the remainder. Fox could even have the finals (which
will be played at night or in the very early morning in Australia, out
of prime time). They would be a good subscription driver and Nine could
protect Fox Sports/Foxtel, in which it owns 50% and 25% respectively.