The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regulator has today (July 13) announced the opening of an investigation into three broadcasters and the sports agency IMG over potential breaches of competition law.
The investigation relates to the purchases by IMG, pay-TV broadcasters Sky and BT Sport, and commercial network ITV of “freelance services which support the production of broadcasting of sports content in the UK.”
It could also be expanded to cover additional organizations.
As of yesterday (July 12), though, the four named parties are being investigated under Section 25 of the Competition Act, which deals with cartels. An investigation can be launched if the CMA believes an agreement between these firms in respect of hiring freelance operators for sports production is or was in place.
In a statement, the CMA said it “believes it has reasonable grounds to suspect one or more breaches of competition law.”
All four have responded with statements of their own.
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Sky has said: “We are cooperating fully with the CMA.”
A spokesperson for BT Group commented: “We note today’s statement from the CMA and are reviewing the details while co-operating fully with their team. It is clear that CMA’s investigation is focussed very specifically on the purchase of freelance services and not any other aspects of the BT Sport or wider BT Group business.”
ITV said: "ITV is committed to complying with competition law and is cooperating with the CMA’s inquiries. ITV does not propose to comment on this investigation further at this stage.”
And IMG has stated: “IMG confirms that it has been the subject of an on-site inspection by the CMA. IMG is co-operating with the CMA in its inspection.”
The investigation into IMG Media Limited includes the Premier League Productions arm, which produces the overseas feed of English soccer’s top-tier Premier League.