Sky could lose football rights

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Related tags: Premier league, Sky sports, British sky broadcasting

Trade leaders are concerned that moves from Europe to break Sky's monopoly of Premiership football coverage could lead to higher prices for...

Trade leaders are concerned that moves from Europe to break Sky's monopoly of Premiership football coverage could lead to higher prices for licensees.

Press reports have indicated that the English Premier League may be prepared to split its football rights and sell them to more than one broadcaster after discussions with the European Commission.

The latest news has brought concerns from the trade that it could lead to even higher prices for licensees.

Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said: "We would be concerned that ultimately the publican could end up paying twice. We would be keen to ensure that it is not used as a smokescreen for pushing through further price increases on publicans."

Tony Payne, chief executive of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers' Associations, said: "Licensees are unlikely to have a choice as Sky is still likely to get the best matches. The Premier League is still going to want to get the same money for the games and I can't see terrestrial television paying the same money as Sky."

This split would be a blow to Sky which holds exclusive rights to screen Premiership games in the UK and it could bring an end to its control over the TV pub market.

Mario Monti, the European Competition Commissioner, wants to force the Premier League to carve up the sale of its football media rights as it believes that the current situation of selling to one broadcaster is "tantamount to price fixing". He has argued that the strategy is anti-competitive because it is closing the market to other broadcasters and ultimately limits the coverage of football.

Many publicans have been in uproar about the fees they are charged by satellite giant Sky. They argue the fees are too high and have forced them to stop showing football in their pubs.

Both the Premier League and European Commission confirmed to that they are in discussions. A spokeswoman for the European Commission said: "The investigation is ongoing but we are not in a position to announce anything."

Sky was cleared in August last year of conducting a monopoly of sports coverage in pubs and in December was cleared of breaching competition law after being accused by cable operators NTL, Telewest and the now defunct ITV Digital of overcharging them to carry its channels.

Related topics: Sport

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