Premier League rights to the EU

26Oct05

Finally, it looks like there is some resolution to the near 2 year disagreement that the Premier League in the UK has been having with the European Union Competition Commission regarding the sale of its TV rights. Since the formation of the Premier League back in 1992 BSkyB have been the sole live rights holders in the UK, paying £1.024bn in Augist 2003 for a 3 year deal for all four of the Premier League’s live rights pacakges.

The EU Competition Commission has been seeking assurances that the bidding process would be “fair and transparent” and that no one braodcaster would have exclusivity over live coverage in the UK. The Premier Leage has now stated that no one organisation can bid for all of the packages.

What will this mean for the viewer? Probably very litte. If there are 6 packages available it is likely BSkyB will take 5, leaving another cable/satellite broadcaster to take the other, possibly consisting of games of dubious interest and quality. Look out for Setanta, a fledgling Irish Pay-TV operator to bid for the final package, along with NTL/Telewest. It will be interesting to see where this leaves BSkyB’s Pay-per-View offering, PremPlus.

An interesting point to note is the situation in France where Canal+ won exclusive live rights to all Ligue1 matches in December 2004 with the blessing of the competition authorities, however it seems that the EU Competition Commission is taking a much firmer stance this time round.

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