Virgin Media hits out at BT and Sky over Premier League football TV rights deal

 
Caitlin Morrison
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The UK's broadcasters are still battling it out over the Premier League TV rights (Source: Getty)

Virgin Media has fired the latest shot in the battle of the broadcasters over the way TV rights for football games are sold.

Research commissioned by Virgin showed that just six per cent of football fans said they were able to watch every match they wanted to on TV at home.

Media watchdog Ofcom launched an investigation into the sale of Premier League rights in November 2014, ahead of the league's deal with BT and Sky in February 2015. The two broadcasters paid £5bn to show 168 out of 380 games, or 44 per cent, on UK television – just 13 per cent of the 1,000 fans surveyed think they will benefit from this new deal.

Virgin Media made an official complaint to Ofcom in September last year about the way Premier League television rights are auctioned, stating that it believes fans in the UK are being charged too much to watch games from England's top tier.

In the new survey, around 70 per cent of fans said they think it is unfair that they have to buy both BT and Sky bundles or add-ons to watch the games they want to see, and 73 per cent said they would watch more games if they were available on TV.

“Football fans are getting a raw deal,” said Virgin Media boss Tom Mockridge. “They pay the highest prices in Europe to watch top-flight football on TV yet are denied some of the best matches. Ofcom should show the red card to the Premier League and the way in which TV rights are sold in the UK.”

He added: “It’s time Ofcom decides whether an auction structure based on now expired commitments agreed in 2006 justifies a self-determined exemption from competition law The results surely speak for themselves, over the same period the cost of live TV rights have rocketed by nearly 200 per cent.”

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