Ofcom to end probe into Premier League football TV rights sale
Ofcom is set to scrap its two-year investigation of the Premier League’s multibillion-pound TV rights auction, a move which complainant Virgin Media says will lead to price hikes for football fans.
The media watchdog launched the probe in 2014 after Virgin Media lodged a complaint arguing that the Premier League should make all 380 matches live on TV.
Virgin Media maintains that by making just 41% of matches available – in contrast to other countries such as Germany and leagues such as the NBA which make all games available – the Premier League is keeping prices artificially high and restricting choice to consumers.
Ofcom is expected to announce on Monday that it is dropping the investigation, concluding it does not have the capacity to assess whether the way in which the Premier League sells rights is harming consumers.
However, the Premier League is expected to announce that it will increase the number of matches available live in the next auction, starting with the 2019-20 season, from 168 to 190, according to the Daily Telegraph, which broke the story.
It had been speculated that any substantial increase in the matches on offer could require the football authorities to abandon the 2.45pm to 5.15pm broadcasting blackout on Saturday afternoons that has been in place since the 1950s to protect lower-league attendances. Surveys and focus groups across the country found no clear consensus on whether Saturday 3pm matches should be broadcast live, for instance. Some fans claim it would erode tradition and attendances, particularly among away fans.
Under the three-year contract that begins next season, Sky and BT will pay £5.1bn – an almost 80% increase on the current deal.
source : theguardian.com/media/2016/aug/08/premier-league-tv-rights-virgin-media-premiership-price
source : telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/07/premier-league-skips-attempt-to-tackle-51bn-tv-bill-as-ofcom-dro/