Sports Tonight complains to Ofcom over Sky-Football League deal

UK IPTV channel Sports Tonight has lodged a complaint with the country’s media regulator, Ofcom, about pay-television broadcaster BSkyB’s rights deal with the English Football League, which covers the three divisions below the Premier League.

Kelvin MacKenzie, the owner of Sports Tonight, said that the rights should be negotiated by clubs individually rather than collectively by the league and accused Sky of “warehousing” rights and not showing as many games as it could, according to the Financial Times.

“What the Football League and Sky are doing with these rights is acting in a massively anti-competitive manner and I am taking them to Ofcom,” MacKenzie, who was briefly managing director of Sky in the 1990s, said. “I like Sky, but I don’t like it to the point where they are overpaying for and then underusing football rights.”

Sky has a three-year deal, from 2011-12 to 2013-14, to show 75 matches live per year from the league, its end-of-season play-offs and its two knockout competitions, the Carling Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. The deal is worth £195 million (€238 million /$312 million) over the three years.

MacKenzie also said that he was unhappy with the Premier League’s plan to bundle new media rights within television broadcast packages. Last week, the Premier League launched an invitation to tender for its UK rights for three seasons, from 2013-14 to 2015-16, and said that the live and near-live rights would be awarded on a platform-neutral basis.

“It is a racket and the sooner the Premier League is broken up [as a negotiator] and rights are negotiated on a club-by-club deal basis, the better for the consumer,” MacKenzie added.

Sports Tonight will launch as a channel on Sky’s satellite platform next month, and Mackenzie said that “a small sports television business needs football.”