Licensees' fury at Sky football deal

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Live premiership football, Premier league, Sky sports, Sky

Licensees have reacted with fury to the news that Sky has been given the rights to all live Premiership football coverage until May 2007.The news is...

Licensees have reacted with fury to the news that Sky has been given the rights to all live Premiership football coverage until May 2007.

The news is a blow to licensees who had to endure successive subscription fee price rises in July to both Sky Sports and Premiership Plus, Sky's pay-per-view service.

The move comes despite an investigation by the European Commission (EC), which considered the satellite giant's monopoly of TV football as "tantamount to price fixing".

Although the BBC has won the rights to the highlights package which will see Match of the Day return to television, the Sky bid of £1.02bn will allow it to continue to dominate live top-flight football.

Danny Scott, licensee of Rick's Bar in Greenwich, London, said: "It's frightening and I am terrified of what Sky is going to do to us now. It has got more games for less money. I can just afford Sky for this season but I won't make any money from it. I only have it as a service for my customers."

Licensee John Brind of the New Inn in Buckely Wharf, Northamptonshire, said: "Something has to be done to stop Sky as it's just daylight robbery.

"I've got in a real rut with Sky now because I have spent £4,000 on a drop-down screen and I'm running Sky at a loss. For freeholders it is so hard once you have invested this kind of money."

However, the EC could still cause some problems for Sky. European commissioner Mario Monti wanted the rights split into four packages to create competition in the market. It is understood that he may ask the Premier League to restructure the packages differently and to hold the auction again.

A spokeswoman for Sky said: "It's a great thing that we continue to have Premiership football and we believe that publicans will continue to make a great deal of money from having Sky."

Just prior to the deal, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers said it had alerted the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the anti-competitive situation.

It wrote to the OFT saying that the broadcasting giant was in breach of competition law because it acts abusively to its customers.

Related articles:

Parliamentary rally to protest against Sky price rise (14 August 2003)

Sky gets Premier League football until May 2007 (11 August 2003)

Trade group demands fresh Sky TV probe (7 August 2003)

EC to block Sky's exclusive Premiership TV rights bid (4 August 2003)

Sky defends latest price increase (31 July 2003)

Trade backs fight against Sky's subscription hike (17 July 2003)

Sky bids for sole football rights up to 2007 (14 July 2003)

Labour MP calls on Sky to review pricing policy (10 July 2003)

Champions League coverage justifies price hike, says Sky (7 July 2003)

Pub companies slam Sky price-hike (7 July 2003)

Anger as Sky hikes up fees (3 July 2003)

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