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BT keen to renew Champions League rights

BT Consumer chief executive John Petter has indicated that the UK telecommunications company is keen to renew domestic media rights for football’s Uefa Champions League.

According to the Guardian newspaper, when asked about whether the telco could thrive without the rights, Petter, who led the last bid, told analysts: “I don’t want to comment on the future [without the rights], not least because our strong preference is to keep the Champions League.”

BT has reportedly held talks with free-to-air broadcasters about the next cycle of rights ahead of the scheduled first round of bids in March.

BT acquired exclusive UK rights for the Champions League from 2015-16 to 2017-18, but the competition’s commercial partners have reportedly expressed concerns about the lack of exposure.

Petter, speaking more broadly about the UK pay-television sports market, added: “There is already a market problem because Sky has more than 70 per cent of pay sports revenues in the marketplace now.

“It’s about the combination of the amount of sports-rights they control and the absence of any regulation. If we had a 70-per-cent share of the broadband marketplace and the rates of [customers] switching [to rivals] were low and prices high people would say that isn’t a good thing for consumers. That is true of Sky Sports customers and nothing [regulatory] has really happened.”