New BSkyB deal threatens to further upset Europe
LONDON - The relationship between the Premier League and the European Commission looks set to become further antagonised after it awarded BSkyB further matches as part of an internet, TV and mobile package.
BSkyB has picked up the near-live and internet rights to more than 242 games and includes separate rights sold to mobile phone companies 3 UK, the Hutchison Whampoa mobile phone venture, and Vodafone.
Vodafone plans to lauch its own 3G service next year, which will allow for faster downloads to its mobile phones. 3 UK said the two firms will split the costs of the mobile broadcasts down the middle.
Sources quoted by Reuters said that Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB had also bid for the mobile rights to complement its TV rights. The addition of internet highlights gives Sky even more strength in the market over its competitors.
Last week, it emerged that Europe's competition commissioner Mario Monti is to oppose the £1.02bn deal BSkyB agreed with the Premier League for the live rights to 138 matches for three years beginning in the 2004-2005 season.
The league has split the rights into four packages to allow other broadcasters to bid for them, but despite other offers from ITV and cable companies NTL and Telewest, BSkyB bought them all.
The commission argues that the packages were structured in such a way that only Sky could afford them.
The issue of BSkyB's creeping monopoloy is at the core of Monti's objections to the broadcast rights deal.
"The announcements made by the Premier League suggest that BSkyB will have an even greater monopoly over live TV rights than was the case in the past. This is bad for competition in broadcasting markets and is bad for consumers," he said.
Monti said the commission would soon be sending out its concerns to the parties involved, which would then have two months to repond.
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