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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Q&A: Premier League TV rights
Sky is showing 88 games on Sky Sports and 50 on Sky PremPlus this season
BSkyB will not be allowed to secure all the new packages
Broadcasters have been putting in their bids for the rights to show Premier League football matches, ahead of the deadline later on Thursday.

The winners of the six different match packages will be able to show matches for three years starting in 2007.

Why has this round of bidding attracted such attention?

It comes after a long-running dispute between the FA Premier League and the European Commission over competition issues.

The Commission said that by allowing one broadcaster to secure all the live TV rights the league was in breach of competition rules.

The Commission had threatened to take legal action against the Premier League if it failed to agree new arrangements giving other broadcasters a slice of live TV coverage of matches.

How was the situation resolved?

The league has created six packages of "balanced" content, which is being auctioned off to broadcasters.

Under the deal, no broadcaster is allowed to secure all six packages.

The packages will also have to "showcase the Premier League as a whole" meaning that clubs from throughout the league will have to feature in live matches and not just the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool.

What exactly do the six packages contain?

The six packages are:

  • Package A: 23 matches shown at 1600 on Sunday
  • Package B: 23 matches shown at 1330 on Sunday
  • Package C: a minimum of 12 matches at 2000 on Monday, the rest either at 1330 on Sunday or 1715 on Saturday or other times
  • Package D: a minimum of 18 matches at 1715 on Saturday, the rest either at 1330 on Sunday, 2000 on Monday or other times
  • Package E: 23 matches shown at 1245 on Saturday
  • Package F: seven to 13 matches on midweek evenings/bank holidays, 10 to 16 at 1245 on Saturday and 1600 on Sunday.

    Who is in the running to snap up the packages?

    Obviously BSkyB - which currently holds the rights to all live Premiership matches - will be in the running.

    Last week Irish broadcaster Setanta said it would bid for two packages at the "lower end of the scale".

    Cable firm NTL, BT Group, and ITV have also been named as potential bidders.

    The auction process will also be "technologically neutral", allowing the possibility of games being broadcast over the internet.

    However, analysts believe BSkyB is still likely to take the majority of the six packages.

    How much will the deal pump into football?

    When BSkyB won the current packages of live matches running until 2007, it paid 1.024bn ($1.77bn) to the Premier League in 2003.

    Analysts believe the current three-year rights will bring a total of about 1.1bn, up about 10% from the last contract.

    Once the live UK rights are determined the Premier League will then look to sell off its mobile phone rights and overseas rights.

    Last time round the Premier League raised 1.6bn in total from all its rights, and will be looking to exceed this figure this time.

    When will a decision be known?

    The Premier League says an announcement will be made some time between the deadline day of Thursday, 27 April, and 19 August, the date the new season starts.

    A decision should be known sooner rather than later. Delays are only likely to be caused if none of the bids meet the undisclosed reserved prices for each package.

    Then a second round of bidding would have to be instigated. However, it is surely in the interests of the league and broadcasters to get the issue resolved as soon as possible.

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