EDINBURGH TV FESTIVAL: Sky's Premier League deal not under threat

Sky's exclusive broadcast deal with the Premier League looks safe, despite the threat of intervention by the European Commission, according to a debate in Edinburgh.

Sky paid more than £1 billion for the rights to all four live Premier League packages for three years. The deal represented a major coup for Sky - it managed to reduce the price per game from £3.6 million to £2.5 million, a level not seen since 1996.

However, the deal has upset Brussels, which has said it will be investigating it on the basis that there may not have been adequate competition from rival broadcasters. Sky was the sole bidder for three of the packages, with ITV putting in a nominal bid for just one.

While the panel, including Pat Younge, the head of programmes and planning at BBC Sports, and the broadcast consultant Jonathan Sykes, had no Sky representatives to argue its case, it saw the deal as important for Sky, as Premier League football is central to its digital offering.

The panel dismissed any suggestion Sky could in future be threatened by the Premier League clubs launching their own alternative channel.

As part of the renegotiation, the BBC wrested the Premier highlights from ITV.

ITV paid £180 million for the highlights package when it came up for renewal three years ago but in the latest round of negotiation the price had dropped to a more realistic £105 million. This leaves Formula 1 and Champions League as ITV's core sports properties.

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