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Premiership deal to receive 'vigorous competition' check

LONDON - The Premier League is to be investigated after it handed the rights to screen Premiership football matches to Sky in a £1.024bn deal.

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The Premier League had already been in talks with the EU Competition Commission over making the tender more open, but went ahead with its final bid without seeking permission.

Now Tilman Lueder, spokesman for EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti, has said that the commission wanted to know how many broadcasters bid for each of four packages that the Premier League offered, to make sure that they were not just tailored specifically for one bidder.

"If there were several competing bids and if there was vigorous competition for every single package, then of course this has been a competitive tender. If, on the other hand, the packages were structured in such a way that they were only attractive for one bidder, then of course we have doubts whether it was a competitive tender," Lueder said.

The Premier League announced on Friday that Sky had won the rights to show matches live for three years, starting from 2004. It also handed the BBC the rights to show a highlights package, for which the corporation paid £105m. This means the return of 'Match of the Day' to BBC and the end of ITV's disastrous 'The Premiership'.

The EU Competition Commission is also checking other deals signed by the Premier League including internet broadcast rights and video messaging via mobile phones.

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