Ofcom closes FA Cup radio rights competition case

Ofcom has ended its investigation of the case it opened in December 2004 following complaints from the Wireless Group (operator of talkSPORT) that an agreement between the Football Association and the BBC, for the supply of national radio rights to FA cup games, infringed Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998.

Ofcom's Competition Bulletin gives only a very brief explanation of why the case has been closed. Current arrangements for FA Cup radio rights mean that a maximum of seven matches per round are broadcast on national radio by the BBC, and Ofcom reports evidence that there is "only limited interest in the currently unsold rights and that a low value is placed on these games". It also explains that similar issues are being considered as part of the ongoing European Commission investigation of the sale of FAPL TV rights. For these reasons, Ofcom intends not to devote further resources to the complaint at present, and closed the case.

The reference to the TV rights case is understandable: Ofcom would not wish to apply the Competition Act to this case in a way that could be inconsistent with any decisions taken by the Commission in respect of the FAPL. The point on the low value of certain rights does not seem directly relevant to the validity of the Wireless Group's claim of Chapter I infringement. It might be seen as a prioritisation decision in which Ofcom attaches importance to the availability of games to listeners.

Filed under BBC, Media, Ofcom.

Reckon LLP is an economics consultancy with expertise in data analysis, economic regulation and competition law.

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