Broadcasters welcome Sky victory
By CLAIRE BEALE, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 30 July 1999 12:00AM
Mr Justice Ferris’s decision to clear the Premier League of operating a cartel over the sale of its TV rights has surprised the media industry by preserving the status quo and protecting BSkyB’s hold on televised football.
Mr Justice Ferris’s decision to clear the Premier League of
operating a cartel over the sale of its TV rights has surprised the
media industry by preserving the status quo and protecting BSkyB’s hold
on televised football.
The Restrictive Practices Court ruling on Wednesday afternoon was widely
expected to herald a more flexible approach to televising Premier League
games, revolutionising the sport and the way it is broadcast in the
The decision to clear the League of illegal practices effectively
prevents other broadcasters having access to any Premier League games
without bidding for the winner-takes-all exclusive live rights when the
existing contracts come up for renewal.
However, ITV welcomed the ruling. A spokesperson said: ’When the present
contracts expire in 2001, ITV will be actively punching its weight in
the market and negotiating to secure rights to Premiership football,
both live and recorded.’
Vic Wakeling, the managing director of Sky Sports, described the court’s
decision as ’a victory for common sense’ and pledged that Sky would
’take quality sports coverage to new levels of excellence’.
The court review was prompted by the Office of Fair Trading, which
argued that by negotiating television rights to all Premier League games
collectively, the League has raised prices for the coverage rights and
restricted viewer choice. Of the 380 Premier League games held each
season, only 60 are broadcast live on Sky.
The existing deals run for five years and represent pounds 743 million
of income for the Premier League, with BSkyB paying pounds 670 million
for live games and the BBC paying pounds 73 million to secure the
The director-general of fair trading, John Bridgeman, said the OFT had
been concerned about fans who wanted to see more of their favourite
clubs on TV. ’Unfortunately, the court did not feel able to attach much
weight to this point,’ he added.
The OFT is considering the verdict and has a right of appeal but only on
a point of law.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk