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EPL TV rights sale under probe

Published:Wednesday | November 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM


English Premier League fans at home could have access to as many matches live on television as audiences abroad after an investigation was launched by Britain's broadcasting watchdog yesterday.

Most games kick off at 3 p.m. on Saturdays, but are available only to international rights holders so fans aren't discouraged from going to stadiums. With four professional leagues in England, featuring 92 clubs, watchdog Ofcom said it will consult with fans before ordering any overhaul of television rights.

The investigation was launched after a complaint from Virgin Media, which is owned by American cable TV operator Liberty Global. Virgin Media said that, with only 41 per cent of matches shown live in Britain, customers end up paying more for their subscriptions because there is less competition.

UK Broadcasters

The domestic rights are held by Sky, whose largest shareholder is Rupert Murdoch and BT Sport. Their three-year deals, which cost a combined £3.018 billion (US$4.7 billion), end after the 2015-16 season.

"Ofcom understands that the scheduling of football games is important to many football fans, in particular attending 3 p.m. kickoffs on Saturdays," the regulator said in a statement. "The investigation will take this into account and Ofcom plans to approach the Football Supporters' Federation and certain other supporters' groups to understand their views."