Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 16:27 UK

Trust criticises BBC's FA Cup bid

FA Cup
The BBC won the radio rights to the FA Cup until 2012

The BBC has been criticised over the way it won the radio rights to the FA Cup, following a complaint from rival bidder Talksport.

The BBC Trust found the BBC had failed to follow its own competition rules when deciding how much to pay for the rights to provide live game commentary.

The BBC also breached guidelines on value for money, but the cost was not "unreasonable", the trust said.

But the trust rejected allegations that the BBC had broken competition laws.

Talksport had complained about the BBC's successful bid last year to carry on providing commentary from FA Cup matches until 2012.

It said the BBC's bid for the rights was higher than their commercial value.

Although the trust did not uphold the accusation of over-paying for the rights, it did rule that the BBC bidders had broken its own internal competition guidelines, designed to ensure fair competition between broadcasters.

Scott Taunton, the managing director of Talksport's parent company UTV Media, said he welcomed the judgement.

He said: "We are obviously pleased with the trust's findings and look forward to entering future sporting rights bidding processes knowing that we are competing on a level playing field."

A BBC spokeswoman stressed that the more serious accusations made by Talksport had been dismissed.

She said: "We note that the trust did not find any evidence that the BBC either overpaid for the rights nor acted anti-competitively.

"We recognise that the trust has identified some issues around the executive's approach to formulating sports rights which we will examine and report back to the trust.

"The BBC will work with the trust to more clearly demonstrate the work it is doing to ensure value for money. "

'Not trustworthy'

Upholding a separate complaint brought by the British Educational Suppliers Association, the trust said the BBC had accepted it needed to change internal procedures.

The trust said the BBC was guilty of failing to follow its own competition guidelines, this time on educational websites such as the Learning Zone and BBC Bitesize.

It described the BBC's communication with the education industry as neither "meaningful [nor] trustworthy".

The trust also said parts of BBC learning had created "a negative impact on the commercial market for educational content".

Trust finance and compliance committee chairman Rotha Johnston said: "In these two cases the BBC failed adequately to follow the right processes.

"We look to the BBC Executive to right these wrongs by putting in place robust measures to avoid this situation being repeated."



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