Premier League to fight Ofcom's ruling on Sky

Chief executive says forcing TV company to drop prices will 'undermine UK sport'

Robin Scott-Elliot
Sunday 23 October 2011 02:45

The Premier League is to mount a challenge against Ofcom's ruling that Sky must reduce its wholesale price by more than 20 per cent, claiming that it will "undermine not only English football but UK sport as a whole".

Sky has a £1bn deal to show exclusive live games from the Premier League and the League fears its ability to attract such lucrative future deals will be damaged by Ofcom's decision.

"By forcing Sky to sell its sports channels to its competitors at a discount, Ofcom will reduce the incentives of all broadcasters, Sky included, to invest in the acquisition of sports rights," said Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League. "The effect will be to fundamentally damage the investment models that have helped sport become a successful part of the UK economy.

"We want to see competition for our content; it attracts value to invest in what fans want – playing talent and facilities. Anything that diminishes that investment will be bad for the game and bad for sports fans as a whole.

"We, and our clubs, operate in a highly competitive market and we intend to resist strenuously this unjustified attempt to reward risk-averse companies and undermine not only English football but UK sport as a whole."

The broadcasting regulator ended a three-year investigation with an announcement last month that Sky Sports, which carries exclusive coverage of Premier League football, English cricket and domestic rugby union, be made available to rivals such as BT and Virgin Media for a monthly fee of £10.63 per subscriber. The current price is £13.88. Ofcom decided that Sky "exploit their market power", which "prevents fair competition and reduces consumer choice".

The Premier League is expected to discuss the action with other sporting bodies, but it has no plans to mount a joint action. The move comes as no surprise to Ofcom, which had already planned for a challenge. The League has six weeks to submit its appeal to the Competition Appeals Tribunal.

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