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Virgin Media requests Ofcom Barclay's Premier League pricing probe amid TV rights row

By John McCarthy | Media editor

Virgin Media


Premier League article

September 30, 2014 | 3 min read

Virgin Media has asked Ofcom to investigate the Barclays Premier League’s football match broadcast rights bidding process to combat what the firm called inflated prices.

The UK cable group asked Ofcom to study the bidding process for the rights, which it believes is flawed, pushing prices through the roof in a move causing “significant consumer harm”.

The Premier League claimed in a statement that it has always sold match rights in a “transparent and open process”.

Usain Bolt most recently starred in the Virgin football ad

It added: “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."

An Ofcom spokesperson told the Drum: “Ofcom can confirm that Virgin Media has submitted a competition complaint about the Premier League.

“We are considering the complaint, before deciding whether any further action is required.”

The most recent match package, expiring in 2016, was sold for £3bn - a 70 per cent increase upon the previous deal. Virgin has said it will refrain from bidding for the next rights package although BSkyB and BT are highly likely to compete.

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Ofcom will return a decision before the end of October. Virgin's latest complaint is the first of many from broadcasters shocked by the price of football.

In August, ITV director of television, Peter Fincham, admitted that it was not a "wise use of the budget" to chase football rights, after it lost the Champions League from 2015 to BT Sport.

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