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Citing costs, the HOT cable company yesterday announced it would drop American sports channel ESPN and replace it with Eurosport 2. The step, which requires approval by the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting, is expected to draw the ire of viewers interested in watching NFL, MLB, NBA and NCAA games, as well as popular ESPN programs such as Sports Center and Pardon The Interruption.

HOT said it attempted to reduce significantly the costs of the channel but failed, prompting the decision to stop broadcasting ESPN. Eurosport 2 features European and world sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, hockey and cricket. "Eurosport 2 is a leading popular channel abroad, and bringing it to Israel responds to the broad demand for this channel," said Yoram Mokadi, HOT vice president for content and regulation.

ESPN commented that it regretted HOT's decision and stressed it would continue to be shown by the rival broadcaster Yes, as it has for the past 10 years.