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Ofcom cans Virgin Media's Premier League live footy match probe

Punters are now getting more matches so we've got better things to do, says regulator

Blighty's communications regulator Ofcom has dropped its probe into how the Premier League sells live UK audio-visual media rights for football matches.

The investigation, carried out under the Competition Act 1998, considered whether the selling arrangements of the Premier League restricted or distorted competition.

In closing its investigation, Ofcom said it has taken into account the Premier League’s recent decision to increase the number of matches available for live broadcast in the UK by at least 22, to a minimum of 190 per season, from the start of the 2019/20 season.

Consumer research carried out by the regulator revealed no strong desire to see more broadcasts. Just one fifth of fans said they wanted to see more matches televised live, while a similar proportion said they were happy with the overall number of matches broadcast live – but wanted to see different matches shown.

"Due to the range of views expressed in the consumer research, significant further work – including additional research among football fans – would be required to conclude this investigation," said Ofcom in a statement.

"Given the considerations outlined above, we have decided to close the investigation. Ofcom’s resources could be used more effectively on other priorities to benefit consumers and competition."

Tom Mockridge, chief exec of Virgin Media, which lodged the original complaint two years ago, welcomed the decision to air more games.

“Football fans will now be able to watch more live action on TV. As the only TV provider to offer all the available games, we are pleased that after a two year campaign the Premier League has agreed to offer more TV games.” ®

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