BSkyB to share its Premiership coverage



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THE FA Premier League has committed to sharing its live television rights with at least two broadcasters as of 2007, ending a 15-year stranglehold of satellite station BSkyB over exclusive live rights for top-flight English football.

Ms Neelie Kroes, competitions commissioner of the European Union, said yesterday that the latest proposals of the Premier League's chief executive Richard Scudamore on one of the richest contracts in European sports were constructive. They "move us closer to an amicable result in this case", she said in a statement.

Premier League officials were equally pleased. "Both sides felt it was a very positive meeting and it took the process forward," said Premier League spokesman Dan Johnson.

Kroes wants to hold the Premier League to a promise it made in 2003 to get live football on more channels.

The EU's Executive Commission has far-reaching powers to enforce fair trade practices in the 25-nation EU, and can impose fines of up to 10 per cent of a company's annual global turnover.

Kroes said she would address the latest proposal by Friday. Johnson said: "It is reasonable that the commission would take some time to review an updated proposal."

EU Executive Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said: "They have to demonstrate to the commission that the way in which they will sell the rights will result in at least two broadcasters having a viable and meaningful share of the rights."

Kroes has already warned that she would file charges if the Premier League fails to comply. Her statement said: "The commission wants viewers and football fans to enjoy more choice and better value."

The meeting between Scudamore and Kroes was seen as a last chance for the Premier League to come up with new proposals that would soothe EU concerns. Officials will now assess the details of the latest proposals to see if they meet the EU requirements.

BSkyB has held the exclusive broadcast rights to live Premiership games since 1992. Last year, the EU Commission agreed to BSkyB keeping its monopoly until 2007 on condition the 2007-2010 contract would offer substantial packages to a second bidder.

In 2003, the Premier League awarded a £1billion exclusive deal to BSkyB for 2004 to 2007. The EU complained there was too little football left for free TV. The Premier League claims the deal it offered EU regulators in July adheres to guidelines.

Source: Scotsman