The way TV rights to show live Premier League matches are sold is to be investigated by media regulator Ofcom following a complaint from Virgin Media.
In September the cable firm complained that the way packages of rights are structured, and the League’s policy of only releasing rights to round 40% of matches to broadcasters, is pushing up prices for consumers.
Virgin Media also alleges “that 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.”
Ofcom has says it’s “mindful” that the next auction, expected to be fiercely contested by BT and Sky, is due to start shortly and that it’s “open to discussion with the Premier League about its plans.”
Although not part of Virgin Media’s complaint, the high prices paid by Sky and BT to the right to show matches also impacts on resellers of their channels, including Virgin Media.
Last year the cable firm warned investors that the cost of securing BT’s sport channels and “rate increases on Sky premium content”, including Sky Sports, had left it with “higher programming costs”.
Ofcom says its investigation “will consider whether there is a breach of the UK and/or EU competition law prohibition on agreements and decisions which restrict or distort competition.”