Volume 30 (2007)

Volume 30 (2007) / Issue 1

Patrick Massey, 'Are Sports Cartels Different?–An Analysis of EU Commission Decisions Concerning Collective Selling Agreements for Football Broadcasting Rights' (2007) 30 World Competition, Issue 1, pp. 87–106


The March 2006 decision by the EU Commission in respect of broadcast rights for FA Premier League

(FAPL) football matches is the latest in a series of decisions in which the Commission has permitted

collective selling of such rights. The decision precludes the sale of all rights to live FAPL football matches

to a single broadcaster. The Commission had initially objected that the joint selling arrangements were

anti-competitive and ’’tantamount to price fixing’’. Given that price fixing is generally regarded as a

serious breach of competition law, the acceptance of such arrangements in the case of sports broadcasting

raises some serious issues. A subsequent UK Government report on football recommended the

introduction of a block exemption permitting collective selling of football broadcasting rights. Three main

arguments have been advanced in support of collective selling of sports broadcast rights?that it is

necessary because of the unique characteristics of sports leagues; that it improves competitive balance

within sports leagues; and that it permits the redistribution of some of the revenues from the sale of

broadcast rights to lower level clubs. The present article analyses these arguments and concludes that they

are not supported by the evidence.

Copyright © 2007 Kluwer Law International
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ISSN: 1011-4548
ID: WOCO2007005