Virgin demands probe into Premier League television rights

The average Briton pays £51 a month to watch all live Premier Live games against £18 in Spain

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The Independent Online

Virgin Media has demanded media regulator Ofcom launch an investigation into how Premier League TV rights are sold because viewers are paying “the highest prices in Europe”.

The TV firm urged the watchdog to use its power to intervene in the way the rights are sold because the value of the next auction, due to begin later this year, is set to soar a “further 60 per cent”.

The English Premier League has already driven up the value of the TV rights dramatically, netting a 70 per cent increase in the last three-year rights auction in 2012 when BSkyB and BT paid £3 billion in their battle for live rights.

The average Briton pays £51 a month to watch all live Premier Live games against £21 in Germany, £18 in Spain and £25 in Italy.

 

"The rapidly rising cost of Premier League live broadcast rights means UK fans pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV," said Brigitte Trafford, Virgin Media's Chief Corporate Affairs Officer.

Virgin Media said it filed its complaint two weeks ago and is expecting a response from the media regulator next month.

Today, Ofcom said it is "considering the complaint" before deciding whether any further action is required ahead of the auction.

The Premier League said: “Live Premier League audio-visual rights have always been sold in a transparent and open process.

"Regulators have examined our rights packaging and sales process in considerable detail in the past and found both of them to be compliant with UK and European competition law.

"If Ofcom chooses to investigate this complaint, we will of course be happy to demonstrate to Ofcom that this is the case.”

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