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Foxtel strikes Australian Top Gear deal

Australian pay TV operator Foxtel is to launch the new season of British motoring series Top Gear on the BBC Knowledge channel ahead of its premiere on free-to-air station Nine Network after striking a deal with BBC Worldwide.

However, the new deal does not include the rights to produce a new local version of the format, which originally aired on public broadcaster SBS.

BBC Knowledge will launch the nineteenth season of the Jeremy Clarkson-fronted series days after its UK premiere, before being transmitted on Nine and its digital network Go!

The local version of the format, Top Gear Australia, launched on SBS in September 2008 and ended its fourth season on Nine last year. Nine acquired the rights to the UK version in 2009.

The new deal was negotiated by BBC Worldwide director of sales Julie Dowding. “This is a significant deal for BBC Worldwide Australasia and for Australian Top Gear fans. We are fast-tracking Top Gear to Australia by closing the transmission window, offering premium value to viewers on our wholly owned channel BBC Knowledge, and ensuring that all Australians get the opportunity to view Top Gear by continuing our successful relationship with the Nine Network.”

Michael Healy, Nine’s director of television, added: “We’re delighted to be continuing our successful relationship with Top Gear, bringing one of the world’s biggest shows to all Australians on Nine.”