The European Commission has published the final report of its sector inquiry into the licensing of sports rights to 3G mobile networks. The Commission concluded that a separate market existed for sports content over 3G networks, than from that provided by TV sports services. The Commission’s preliminary results highlighted a number of competition concerns in the market. The Commission intends to focus on what it sees as the four bottleneck areas which restrict the availability of mobile sports content: (i) cross platform bundling, with bundled rights most frequently bought by TV operators; (ii) overly restrictive licensing conditions that limit transmission length and timing, most commonly used to protect the value of TV rights; (iii) joint selling by right holders and (iv) exclusive access to content. Market players should review their business practises and act to address possible anti-competitive behaviour. Specific cases of national dimension where potentially harmful behaviours have been identified during the Sector Inquiry will be examined with national competition authorities. The Commission has also published the responses from TV Operators, Telecoms Operators, rights holders, and other interested parties into the inquiry.
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