SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Two major Australian commercial networks on Wednesday joined a consortium seeking one of two pay television licenses to be awarded in Australia.

Last week, a group that includes News Corp., the international media company headed by Rupert Murdoch; billionaire businessman Kerry Packer's Nine Network Australia Ltd., and Australian & Overseas Telecommunications Corp. said it would bid for a license.

The group announced Wednesday that Australia's other two commercial television networks, Seven and TEN, have joined the consortium.

No details of the equity partnership of the consortium have been released. The TEN Network television company is controlled by CanWest Global Communications Corp. of Canada.

United States-based Continental Cablevision and Time Warner Inc. also are bidding for licences, although the two companies have refused to say whether they have launched joint or separate bids.

Time Warner is the second biggest pay TV operator in the United States and the world's biggest media-entertainment company, while Continental is a leading cable TV system operator.

The Australian government will award two pay television licenses, with successful bidders allowed to provide up to four channels to subscribers. The pay television services will be distributed by satellite and use a new digital compression technology.

A third license, for two channels, will be issued to Australian Broadcasting Corp., the state-owned national television and radio broadcaster.

The government is expected to announce the highest bidders for the two licenses on Friday, after which time the Trade Practices Commission will have 45 days in which to review the bids.