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Poaching occurs when a television network purchases the right to broadcast a soap opera that had previously run for a significant length of time on a rival network.

This typically happens when a show's broadcast rights come up for renewal; to poach a show, the new network (Network A) will have to offer significantly more money to the show's production company than the original network (Network B) was willing to pay. Network A is then said to have poached the show from Network B.

Examples of poaching

In the United Kingdom, poaching was deterred for a long time by "gentlemen's agreements" and protectionism. This changed in the 1980s, when the ITV company Thames Television unsuccessfully attempted to poach Dallas from the BBC.

During the 1990s, UK broadcasting laws were relaxed, and poaching attempts became more frequent. Recent examples include the Australian soaps Neighbours and Home and Away, both poached by Five from the BBC and ITV respectively.