BSkyB soccer deal upsets Brussels



The European Commission is to ask the English Premier League whether the award of live television rights was based on a fair and transparent tender. On Sunday, a spokesman for Mario Monti, European competition commissioner, reportedly said: "We will request additional information on whether the individual packages attracted several bids. We like it that there were four packages but we would like to see a situation where each of the four packages was attractive enough to attract more than one bid." On Friday England's Premier League awarded all live football rights to satellite TV broadcaster BSkyB in a deal worth over E1.4 billion. The three-year deal was structured according to the Commission's desire that the rights be split into four separate packages to promote competition instead of the previous single, exclusive package. BSkyB managed to maintain its exclusivity by winning all four packages on an individual basis. However the Commission wants to know if each of the four packages was attractive enough to bring more than one bid. The rights to all four packages will see 138 live games screened on Sky, 32 more than the last deal. Sky's pay-TV channels are now received in more than 10 million UK households.
The BBC won back the rights from ITV to free-to-air highlights in a deal worth E150 million over the three seasons. Peter Salmon, Director of BBC Sport, said: "We are delighted to have won back the rights to the Premier League Highlights on Saturday and Sunday night".