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British Premier League goes to court over broadcast charges

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The Premier League will launch a legal challenge to Ofcom’s ruling forcing Sky to cut the price it charges rival broadcasters to carry its sports channels.

The challenge to the Competition Appeals Tribunal was confirmed following a meeting of top-flight clubs’ chairmen.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said: “We have concluded that we have no option other than to mount a challenge to their proposed action.

“We do not undertake this process lightly. However, the consequences for UK sport and UK sports fans are too serious and fundamental for us to ignore.”

The league fears the ruling will lead to a drop in its clubs’ income with the effect of that being the world’s top players turning their back on England’s top flight.

Sky will have to sell on Sky Sports 1 and 2 to rival broadcasters for up to 23% less than the current wholesale price, according to the ruling by the regulator.

The Premier League, which has just signed a three-year £1.782 billion broadcast deal with Sky paying £1.62 billion of that, have studied the 635-page Ofcom decision in detail.

Mr Scudamore added: “By forcing Sky to sell its sports channels to its competitors at a discount, Ofcom will reduce the incentives of all broadcasters, Sky included, to invest in the acquisition of sports rights.

“This can only have a negative impact on the ability of sport to attract a fair return on its content in an open market, which is necessary to ensure appropriate investment in maintaining the highest quality of that content. The effect will be to subsidise companies that have shown little appetite for investing in content and fundamentally damage the investment models that have helped sport become a successful part of the UK economy and made sport so attractive to UK consumers.”

An Ofcom spokesman said: “It is in consumers’ interests for our pay TV decisions to come into effect as soon as possible to deliver the benefits of wider choice and innovation. We are happy to defend our decision wherever necessary.”

Source: Press Association

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