UK Competition Watchdog launches an Investigation into TV Sport Broadcasters

The Competition and Markets Authority of Britain (CMA), has opened an investigation into several broadcasters and concluded that it had “reasonable grounds to suspect” that BT, ITV and Sky might have violated the competition rules.

IMG Media is the owner of Premier League Productions. This syndicated coverage provides viewers around the world with exclusive coverage from England’s top football teams.

A statement was made by the CMA on its website . The CMA, which monitors markets for monopolies and cartels that keep prices artificially high or run other unfair practices to protect consumers’ rights–said: “The investigation concerns the purchase of services freelancers who support the production of sport content in the UK .”

It added that the CMA believed it had reasonable grounds for suspecting one or more violations of the competition law .”

The companies are being investigated under Section 25 of the Competition Act, which covers the running of cartels.

Manchester City’s Fernandinho lifts the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after winning the Premier League at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, on May 22, 2022. (Hannah Mckay/Reuters)

The CMA stated that it had not yet reached a conclusion as to “whether there is enough evidence of an infraction of competition law to it issue a statement or objections to any parties .”

Huge Appetite for English Premier League Live Games

The English Premier League–which was won by Manchester City last season–was launched in 1992 and there is a voracious global appetite for live games from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East in particular.

In May 2021 the Premier League concluded a three-year deal worth PS4.8 billion ($5.7 billion) from 2022 to 2025 to allow live games in the UK to be shown on Sky Sports, BT Sport, and Amazon Prime Video, with BBC Sport getting the highlights.

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IMG received the right to broadcast English Premier League matches in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as on planes and ships worldwide.

ITV stated in a statement that it had “noted the announcement by the UK Competition and Markets Authority today that it has opened an inquiry into the purchase freelance services which support production and broadcasting sports content in the United Kingdom, by ITV and other companies within the sector .”

It said that ITV was committed to respecting competition law and cooperates with CMA inquiries. ITV is not proposing to comment further on this investigation .”

A Sky spokesperson told PA that they are fully cooperating with the CMA .”

BT, and IMG Media are yet to issue statements.

PA Media contributed to this report.

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Chris Summers, a UK-based journalist, covers a variety of national stories with an emphasis on crime, law enforcement, and policing.

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