Television

EPL, BskyB deal runs into hot water with EU

LONDON: This is a move aimed at preventing monopoly in the British football television market. The European Commission is poised to block the sale of English Premier League live football television rights to Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB television. The deal was struck in August.

Earlier the Premiership used to sell live broadcast rights in one block. This year it had separated the rights into four packages in order to get around the Commission's criticism that the old arrangements favoured large media buyers. This limits consumer access to top-flight football. However, BSkyB got the four packages for more than ?1billion. It was able to cement its position as the only UK broadcaster to screen live Premiership games for another three years.

A London business newspaper has indicated that the European Union's executive branch wants the bidding process be re-started in a more competitive fashion. The European Commission will send BSkyB and the Premier League a list of objections to their agreement. The agreement gives the pay TV firm exclusive rights to broadest live Premiership games for three years starting next year. The two companies will then have two months to respond after the list is sent.

The Premiership also runs the risk of being fined for not furnishing the European Commission with information about the deal in advance. EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti has expressed concern that BSky B grabbed too much of the market. He noted that this was bad for consumers as competition was less.

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