EU investigators raid sports broadcasting companies in several countries | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 11.04.2018
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EU investigators raid sports broadcasting companies in several countries

The European Commission has launched an investigation targeting sports broadcasters, including Fox Networks Group. Brussels said it was concerned that companies may have violated rules prohibiting cartels.

The European Commission on Tuesday announced that its officials "carried out unannounced inspections" of sports media rights companies in several countries within the bloc.

"The Commission has concerns that the companies involved may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices," it said in a statement.

"Officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities."

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The EU executive body did not name which companies were targeted in the raids. However, Fox Networks Group said earlier on Tuesday that it was cooperating with authorities after British newspaper The Telegraph reported raids on its London offices.

"Fox Networks Group is cooperating fully with the (European Commission) inspection," said a spokesman for the media group.

Officials reportedly seized documents and company records.

A camera on a football pitch

Sports broadcasting rights are often worth billions of euros, especially in football

Big games, big business

According to the EU, sports media and intellectual property have "wide-ranging implications for the economy and organization of sport."

Although EU regulation on competition within the bloc does not specifically target sports as a domain, it can have "an important impact on the way sport events are broadcast or transmitted over networks."

Over the past decade, sports media rights have come under increased scrutiny due to the magnitude of financial resources poured into the industry.

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In 2017, BT Sport purchased the rights to broadcast Champions League football matches until 2021 in a deal worth 1.18 billion British pounds (€1.35 billion, $1.67 billion). The year before, Sky secured the rights to broadcast Bundesliga games for €3.5 billion under a four-year deal.

Last year, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox came under criticism for its attempt to full control of Sky. While the deal worth 11.4 billion British pounds received approval from EU regulators, the British government said the takeover "potentially raises public interest concerns."

ls/se (Reuters, AFP)

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