Ofcom, the UK’s communications watchdog, has dropped an investigation into the Premier League’s TV rights auction. The decision means that footie fans could find themselves forced to pay more for their sports TV service.
Two years ago, Virgin Media complained to Ofcom about the way rights Premier League rights were sold. The league limits the number of matches that TV services can show live, and holds a blind auction for providers to win matches. This, the complaint says, leads costs escalating wildly.
Leagues in other countries don't all follow this process - in Spain and Germany, for example, all matches are available to be shown live, and some by multiple TV services.
Ofcom started an investigation into the auction but, according to the Daily Telegraph, has determined that it doesn't have the resources available to tell whether or not the process is harmful to consumers. It cites the fact that it has a heavy workload - including its own research, new responsibility for overseeing the BBC, and its own research projects.
As part of the announcement, the Premier League will up the number of matches available to broadcasters from 168 to 190. It will also change the structure of the sale to allow for greater competition among TV services, with the likely result that the service with fewer matches - BT Sport - will get more.
Not everyone is convinced that this will lower costs though - quite the opposite. Last year, 12 more matches were made available to broadcasters, but the costs still rose a whopping 71% to £5.1 billion. That in turn has led to increases in Sky and BT's monthly bills - plus cost-cutting measures across the business to absorb the extra outlay.
Virgin Media said it welcomed the increase in available live matches, but warned that customers were still not getting a fair deal when it comes to pricing.
Source: The Telegraph
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