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Virgin Media wants Ofcom to force Premier League coverage rethink

Virgin Media wants Ofcom to open up a probe into how the Barclays Premier League sells TV rights to its live football games due to the harm that the high pricing policies are having on consumers.

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The cross platform media group wants to see changes to the way live football coverage is awarded after it predicted that the current £3 billion deal struck with BSkyB and BT two years ago will mushroom by 60 per cent in the next rights sale in 2015.

“The rapidly rising cost of Premier League live broadcast rights means UK fans pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV,” a Virgin Media spokeswoman told The Guardian. “Virgin Media has asked Ofcom to investigate how the rights are sold ahead of the next auction.”

Virgin Media has already implicitly stated that it won’t be applying for coverage rights in the next auction and the reason for its interest stems from the fact that any rise in the price charged to them is likely to be passed on to the consumer.

Ofcom has said it is “considering” the complaint whereas the Premier League has argued that its rights, whether it is audio or video, have “always been sold in a transparent and open process”.

"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," read an additional statement from the league.

Virgin Media went on to argue that in Germany, Spain and Italy 100 per cent of games are available for live broadcast whereas in the UK just 41 per cent of Premier League games can be shown due to an agreement not to screen Saturday afternoon 15:00 kick offs.

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Ofcom will take around eight weeks to consider about Virgin Media’s grievances “before deciding whether any further action is required” with any change to the current equilibrium looking unlikely.

Image Credit: Flickr (docteur es sport)