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Sports

No single buyer for future Bundesliga live TV rights

German fans who watch Bundesliga games live on TV can expect a major change. Germany's cartel office has approved a plan to stop any single pay-TV broadcaster from buying up all the live television rights in the future.

A statement released by Germany's federal cartel office, the Bundeskartellamt, on Monday said it had approved plans to prevent any single buyer from winning all the live television rights for Bundesliga football matches, starting from the 2017-18 season.

The competition watchdog said the Deutsche Fussball Liga (DFL), which operates the Bundesliga, would need to ensure that the rights to between 30 and 102 league matches were sold to an alternative buyer. Currently Sky Deutschland holds vitually all live television rights for the Bundesliga, while public broadcasters have rights to show extended highlights later on the day when games are played.

"For us it is important that the rules ensure that more than one bidder wins the rights. As long as only one party holds the live rights there is a risk that innovation, especially in the Internet-based offering, is limited," said Bundeskartellamt President Andreas Mundt.

No disadvantage to the consumer?

Mundt also expressed confidence that forcing the Bundesliga to sell its live TV rights to more than one broadcaster would not put subscribers at a disadvantage.

"The experiences in other countries such as England have shown that such a model usually doesn't lead to consumers having to purchase more than one subscription to be able to watch all of the games," he said.

The decision paves the way for a bidding battle for rights to the 2017-18 to 2020-21 seasons. DFL boss Christian Seifert has said they hope to generate between 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion) and 1.5 billion per season for the national and international live television rights. Currently, the Bundesliga takes in a total of 817 million euros for the national and international rights.

This is dwarfed by the

English Premier League's television rights deal,

which beginning next season will bring in 3.2 billion euros annually.

pfd/msh (SID, dpa)

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