Under a new 'commitment decision' the German football league and the Commission have agreed to legally binding commitments in the sale of packages of media rights. These are split into nine different packages, four for TV broadcasting, two for internet and two for mobile phone streaming. Some of the rights are available only for leagues/governing bodies, others only for clubs and others subject to negotiation between clubs and associations.
"The Commission hopes it will serve as an example for similar decisions to be taken at national level," EU Competition spokesperson Jonathan Todd told EurActiv. The spokesperson added that DG Competition was examining the reactions to the undertakings set out by the Premier League and is hoping a decision will be taken on the arrangements for 2007 onwards later this year.
However, Dr Richard Haynes from the Stirling Media Research Institute at Stirling University said: "The Commission may see this as a standard type of agreement to be applied to various countries but each country has quite different media environments. The British media scene is very different from the German one in terms of free to air and multi-channel pay-TV platforms."
The deal follows a similar Champions League deal and an earier FA Premier League (FAPL) deal. In the latter case, the FAPL divided up its packages of media rights to bring in other broadcasters (such as the BBC or ITV) to prevent BSkyB from monopolising the televising of English premiership football matches. The move followed pressure from the Commission. But no broadcaster was able to meet a designated reserve price so BSkyB kept all the rights.
Referring to this case, Dr Haynes expects that next time round the Commission will be intent on having at least two broadcasters securing rights to games.
In the future, he sees big clubs viewing the changes as a chance to 'redress the balance' on rights towards their own pay channels. For example he expects Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea to be out to secure more games exclusively for their own channels.