Ofcom says it’s considering a request from Virgin Media to pause the Premier League’s auction of broadcast rights which is currently underway.
Last year the cable company asked the media regulator to investigate how the rights are sold, citing concerns that fans risk ever rising costs amid fierce competition between Sky and BT.
It claims the way packages of rights are structured, and the League’s policy of only releasing around 40% of matches to broadcasters, is pushing up prices for consumers.
At the time it said: “The arrangements for the ‘collective’ selling of live UK television rights by the Premier League for matches played by its member clubs is in breach of competition law.”
Although not part of the firm’s complaint, the prices paid by Sky and BT for the right to show matches also impacts on resellers of their channels, including Virgin Media.
In 2013 it warned investors that the cost of securing BT’s sport channels and “rate increases on Sky premium content”, including sports, had left it with “higher programming costs”.
In November Ofcom said it would “consider whether there is a breach of the UK and/or EU competition law prohibition on agreements and decisions which restrict or distort competition.”
Today the regulator confirmed Virgin has requested that it halt the auction for the 2016/17 rights which is expected to see prices exceed the £3bn paid by Sky and BT for their current rights.
In a statement Ofcom tonight said: “Virgin Media has today made an application for interim measures, which we must now review. We aim to reach a decision in a matter of days.”