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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
EU takes stand on football rights
Liverpool v Chelsea on 2 October
BSkyB currently has all the TV rights to Premiership football matches
The European Commission has threatened to take legal steps against the Premier League if it fails to make concessions over television rights.

The EU is said to be keen to break BSkyB's exclusive grip on screening football matches.

The Commission says current proposals to limit the number of matches per broadcaster do not go far enough.

A meeting between it and the Premier League will take place on Tuesday next week in Brussels.

Competition commissioner Neelie Kroes will discuss the issue with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.

"The meeting is now confirmed and the commissioner has decided to give Richard Scudamore the benefit of the doubt in terms of coming up with a satisfactory proposal," said a spokesman for Ms Kroes.

"If he doesn't it will be a very short meeting."

Without a resolution, the Commission will go ahead with legal action against the Premier League.

'Unwarranted intervention'

In June, the Premier League proposed to sell six packages each of 23 live games for the 2007-2010 seasons, with no single broadcaster permitted to buy more than five packages.

However, the Commission says this does not go far enough.

Mr Scudamore this week told a board meeting that he would suggest five packages each of 28 games, with no one broadcaster allowed more than four.

Whether this will satisfy the Commission remains to be seen. But, contrary to reports, it insists it will not limit broadcasters to a maximum 50% share of TV football rights.

The Commission's interest in the matter has met with fierce opposition from the Premier League which believes it is an unwarranted intervention in the marketplace.

However, 50% is enough to satisfy the ambitions of broadcaster ITV and cable firm NTL, who were reported to have teamed up this week to bid for the rights to screen half the live Premier League matches.

In 2003, BSkyB managed to buy all Premiership packages on offer in a 1bn deal. The broadcaster has won every auction of live Premiership coverage since the league was launched.

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