Sky pays £10m for third series of Fox hit thriller 24

LONDON - BSkyB is reported to have paid as much as £10m to secure the pay-TV and terrestrial rights to the third series of the hit political thriller '24'.

Sky won the rights to the hit US drama, starring Kiefer Sutherland as anti-terrorist agent Jack Bauer working for the Counter Terrorist Unit, or CTU, after talks with between Fox Television and the BBC broke down.

The BBC had screened the first two series of '24', running episodes on BBC Two and BBC Three, but the corporation balked at the price the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox was asking for the third series.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "We know viewers will be disappointed that the BBC and Fox have not been able to agree a deal over the rights to the third series."

She added: "After long negotiations, we were unable to agree scheduling and timescales that meet the needs of both parties."

According to a report on Media Guardian, Sky One is likely to broadcast the third series and auction off the terrestrial TV rights, which could see '24' ending up on Five.

Sky beat Channel 4 to win the rights to '24', which has been a huge critical -- if not audience -- hit in the US and UK.

Three million tuned into watch the final of the second series on BBC Two where Bauer defeats an effort to assassinate President Palmer. This will open the way for other UK broadcasters -- with Sky One, Five and Channel 4 the most likely bidders -- to step in and pitch for the rights to the new series.

The show, which unfolds in real time over a 24-hour period, finished its second series run in the UK in August, where Bauer saved Los Angeles first from a nuclear bomb and then averted a war.

He was, however, unable to save President Palmer, who now lies in a coma having been infected with a virus.

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