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Last Updated: Friday, 28 April 2006, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Football rights hat-trick for Sky
Two UK Premiereship footballers
The European Commission wants UK viewers to have more choice
BSkyB has won three of six packages giving it the right to broadcast English Premier League football games.

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

BSkyB currently has exclusive rights, but a deal between the Premier League and the EU means other broadcasters get access to live Premiership coverage.

The remaining TV rights will now go to a second round of bidding. Setanta, an Irish broadcaster, has said it may bid.

Cable broadcaster NTL, BT Group and ITV have also been named as prospective bidders for the remaining three packages.

A second round of bidding for the final three TV rights packages will take place in due course, the Premier League said, adding that it would not comment any further.

More choice

BSkyB will not be allowed to win all six of the packages after the European Commission decided it had too strong a grip on the TV rights.

In terms of consumer behaviour, you're going to go where you can get the most games
Philip Guest, Exane BNP Paribas

The Commission had threatened to take legal action against the Premier League if it failed to give other broadcasters a slice of live TV coverage of matches. Each package is divided into 23 games.

The Commission has insisted that at least two broadcasters must have a "viable and meaningful" share of football TV rights in England to ensure viewers have more choice.

Analysts said that the most likely outcome of the bidding process was that BSkyB would win either four or five packages, with the remainder going to one of its rivals.

Exane BNP Paribas analyst Philip Guest said that it would be difficult for a rival of Sky to win all three of the outstanding TV packages.

"Sky could put all its remaining money on one package and have a majority of the games," he explained.

"In terms of consumer behaviour, you're going to go where you can get the most games."

More than a decade

The Premier League is expected to earn about 1.1bn from the sale of TV rights, about 10% more than the last time they were on offer.

BSkyB owns the current packages of live matches running until 2007, under a 1.024bn ($1.77bn) deal agreed with the Premier League in 2003.

The satellite broadcaster has held the live rights to Premiership football in England since 1992, a position which has helped it become Britain's leading pay TV service.

Other rights, including mobile rights, television highlights packages, and overseas rights, will be determined separately.

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