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Niger unions halt Cup black-out plans

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger's media unions suspended strike plans on Wednesday that could have taken the World Cup off the air after winning government assurances that state TV would have a broadcast monopoly.

The West African nation's military government had angered unions by allowing private TV networks to freely retransmit live matches being broadcast live by the state television channel.

"We met the communications minister and our position was understood," Yahaya Rabo, general secretary of the Syntrapresse union, told Reuters.

"Private networks who want to retransmit the World Cup must form a contract with the state channel which owns the signal," he said, adding that the strike order had been suspended.

Syntrapresse and information workers' union Sainfo had threatened to hold a strike on Thursday and Friday that could have prevented both the national station from broadcasting and private channels from retransmitting the matches.

Niger is not one of six African countries competing in the South Africa-hosted World Cup, which many commentators have portrayed as a pan-African event.

(Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi; Writing by Daniel Magnowski and Ed Osmond)