Premership football rights-(06.11.05)

The European Commission look determined to force more than one broadcaster on premership football. The Premier League have responded to previous demands by selling rights in six packages with a variety of numbers of live games in each one. This would have left the potential for one broadcaster to buy all the packages but the EC is seeking a deal that rules this out.

Effectively the question should be as to who this will benefit. It is arguable that consumers may prefer one broadcaster to hold all the rights so as to prevent the fixed cost of having to pay for more than one package. The risk of this has to be balanced against the risk of them paying a greater cost for the rights to watch live football as a whole. Therefore this decision is likely to be finely balanced.

There is a risk that the EC will be intervening too closely in a market decision by determining that more than one broadcaster must share Premiership football. This would appear to be a harsher condition than is applied to any other sporting event (the Olympics, Football World Cup etc?) Instead price regulation to protect consumers whilst ensuring a free market auction (that may well efficiently result in one broadcaster holding the rights) is likely to be a better option for all parties. After all, why should the EC define the market as Premership football rights, when there is no lack of competing football brands available to broadcasters, such as international football and the Champions League.