Sky Deutschland sees cartel office complaint rejected

A complaint lodged by German pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland against federal cartel office the Bundeskartellamt over the implementation of a ‘no single buyer rule’ for the domestic rights process to the Bundesliga, the top division of German football, has been dismissed.

Sky’s complaint to the Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf was lodged in June 2016, ahead of the German Football League’s (DFL) announcement of its next set of rights contracts for the four-season cycle spanning 2017-18 to 2020-21.

Sky’s move was not designed to affect this rights process, but instead seek to influence future rights tenders. A Sky spokesman said at the time that the broadcaster was convinced that the no single buyer rule is “not necessary” and also “unlawful” in its current form.

The Bundeskartellamt in April 2016 confirmed that it would enforce a no single buyer rule in the tender for the next set of domestic broadcast rights to the Bundesliga. The Bundeskartellamt’s decision meant that Sky’s grip on Bundesliga rights would be weakened. Sky currently holds all live rights to the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga across the four-season cycle that ends with the 2016-17 season.

German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Sky claimed in front of the Dusseldorf court that antitrust legislation was being wrongly interpreted between free-to-air and pay-television, adding that the importance of public-service broadcaster ARD’s Sportschau programme was also underestimated.

However, the judge was said to have been of the opinion that Sky was seeking to restrict competition, leading to the decision to dismiss the complaint.