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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
Premier boss looks for TV support
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore
Mr Scudamore has been making his feelings known
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is seeking the support of MPs as he tries to stop a European Commission shake-up of TV football.

The Commission is understood to want to limit any company's ownership to 50% of live games when a new UK broadcast deal is drawn up in two years' time.

Mr Scudamore said such a move would "damage" the game, Reuters reported.

Sky owns the current packages of live matches running until 2007, and will show 138 live matches this season.

"We believe that the solution they are trying to impose on us could seriously damage the game at all levels, harming fans and their communities," said FA Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore in a letter to British MPs and European Parliament members, obtained by Reuters.

'Statement of objections'

The Commission is now putting pressure on the league to change the way it sells future televised football rights, or face possible antitrust action for breaking EU competition law.

It has been unhappy with the way Premier League football matches in the UK have been sold.

At the moment satellite broadcaster Sky has what is in effect an exclusive deal with the Premier League to show live matches.

The commission has not yet taken formal action over any possible breaking of competition law.

However, it is preparing a formal "statement of objections" highlighting how it feels the current TV deal, if left unchanged, breaches competition law.

A statement of objections can lead to financial penalties of up to one-tenth of a company's annual turnover worldwide.

'Fall in revenues'

Although Sky has the sole rights to show games, its securing of the current TV rights was acquired through it being the winning bidder for a number of packages.

It has been argued that the broadcaster has, nonetheless, built in a premium for exclusivity in its three year deal, worth 1.02bn ($1.83bn), and that if this is removed the future price paid to the Premier League for TV rights will drop.

Sky will show 88 games on Sky Sports and 50 on Sky PremPlus
Sky will show 138 Barclays Premiership games this season

"Their (Commission's) 50% rule is an intervention in the market that could lead to an artificial fall in revenues that would damage the quality of the game on the pitch, reduce the attractiveness of the game to stadium and TV fans, and hamper the ability of the game to invest in the community," Mr Scudamore warned in his letter.

Companies waiting to step in with offers for future televised packages - be they live games, delayed-broadcast matches or match highlights - could include Setanta, NTL, Telewest, the BBC and ITV.

A number of private equity firms are also closely watching the situation.

Scudamore reveals concern over TV
25 Sep 05 |  Football
EU tackles Premier League TV deals
17 Aug 05 |  Business
BSkyB 'facing TV football battle'
10 Jun 05 |  Business

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