A Federal Court ruling means Telstra must provide channels on its pay TV cable to the Seven Network, eliminating Foxtel's exclusive rights to use the service.
The ruling also means that Seven will be able to show its AFL coverage on Foxtel, previously only screened on Optus Vision and Austar's pay TV services.
Other players are expected to seek access to the channel as the Court's decision reverberates throughout the industry. Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL), Kerry Packer's media empire, is believed to be negotiating with Cable & Wireless Optus about a deal that could see PBL leave Foxtel in favour of Optus.
Such a deal would facilitate investments in pay TV, high-speed Internet services and mobile phones. There is industry speculation about tensions within the Foxtel-partnership between PBL and Rupert Murdoch's News Limited (Foxtel has three partners, 25% each to PBL and News with Telstra having the remaining 50%).
Media analysts suggest that if the ruling on analog services is upheld, and a similar ruling was made on broadband access, Telstra and Cable & Wireless Optus would have many more media and Internet companies seeking access to their networks.
Foxtel has said it would appeal the decision.