Gates in bid for football rights

Gates-backed media company to start bidding war with Murdoch's BSkyB.

Bill Gates is to go head to head with Rupert Murdoch in an effort to gain television rights for premier league football, it is reported.

NTL, the cable network in which Microsoft has a five percent stake, is about to start a bidding war with BSkyB according to Singapore's Sunday Times.

Murdoch-owned BSkyB currently owns the rights to televise premier league matches but those rights expire in 2001. English Football Association commercial director Phil Carling told the Singapore newspaper Gates and NTL were planning a £1bn bid.

Microsoft would not comment on the reports.