word is AFL could announce its new A$1bn TV rights deal before this season even kicks off:
$1b AFL TV rights deal could be just weeks away
THE AFL is closing in on its richest pay day, with hopes a new five-year TV rights deal will be struck within weeks.
Negotiations between league and station chiefs have intensified since Christmas and could be finalised before the start of the premiership season.
The next round of footy broadcast rights, running from 2012 to 2016, is tipped to fetch as much as $1 billion - up from the current mark of $780 million - but final bids are yet to be lodged.
Networks are conducting evaluations and coming to grips with how the fixture and scheduling would work in an expanded 18-team competition.
One scenario would see rival broadcasters Channels 7, 9, 10 and Foxtel all sharing a slice of the action, with Nine continuing its push to pioneer a new Monday night timeslot.
The AFL is also keen on live broadcasts from 2012, despite Seven's preference to air the top-rating Better Homes and Gardens on Friday nights.
Free-to-air television stations would be permitted to show AFL games on their secondary digital channels for the first time.
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