Melita retains Europa League amid discontent at Maltese pay-TV market

Maltese telecommunications company Melita has agreed a three-year extension to its rights for the Uefa Europa League club football competition, but has hit out at the current state of the pay-television sports market in the country.

Melita’s new rights deal takes in the 2015-16 to 2017-18 seasons of the Europa League. It comes after rival telecommunications company Go retained its rights for the Uefa Champions League earlier this month across the same three-year window.

Mireille Muscat, head of marketing at Melita, said the division of key sports content between the two companies was creating an unnecessary burden on consumers in Malta.

“It is far from where Melita would like to see this market heading,” Muscat said, according to the Times of Malta newspaper. “Maltese pay-TV subscribers will be forced to continue subscribing to multiple platforms for another three years if they wish to view all top European football events.

“The fragmentation of TV rights reinforces our views of the need to establish a TV rights sharing protocol between pay TV operators, on the lines of what has existed in other European markets for several years.

“In the UK, Ofcom – the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries – ensured the establishment of a rights sharing condition between operators. Such an arrangement would benefit all pay TV customers in Malta.

“For the past years Melita has been regularly urging the other licensed pay TV operator in Malta (publicly, privately and through the Malta Communications Authority) to discuss and conclude a similar arrangement. Since the option to strike a commercial agreement has so far been elusive, then no other option remains except for the regulators to adopt better market regulation that places pay TV customers at the very top of its agenda.”