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TV football in pubs: Industry shouldn't bankroll Premier League live rights

By Peter Ruddick , 15-Jun-2012
Last updated on 15-Jun-2012 at 18:19 GMT

The British Beer and Pub Association has called on Sky and BT to ensure they do not pass on the cost of live TV rights to screening Premier League matches to business customers including pubs and bars.

The Premier League this week announced it had awarded live TV rights for the majority of its matches to the broadcaster Sky with telecoms company BT acquiring the remaining 38 matches. 154 games were up for grabs in the deal which lasts till the end of the 2015/16 season.

The deal, which replaces a current arrangement between the football organisation and Sky and ESPN, is reportedly worth more than £1.2bn - a rise of around 70 per cent on the last rights agreement.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) have responded to the news by calling on both companies to not pass the massive increase in costs onto pubs.

Bankroll

"Pubs and bars got a bad deal from the last auction process in 2009 – not only were prices hiked across the board, but most ended up having to pay more to Sky to continue to secure the must-see matches," Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the ALMR, said.

The ALMR has said its own figures appear to suggest a drop in subscriptions to Sky across the pub sector to the lowest level in a decade - just 39 per cent of pubs signed up for live football with the broadcaster.

"Many thousands missed out on key England games – and Theo Walcott’s goals - because they were unable to pay the additional premium Sky demanded. With BT having 18 of the 38 first choice picks, it is vital that the two providers work together to deliver a seamless, cost effective service to commercial customers," Nicholls added.

BBPA

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, echoed the call saying pubs and bars had continued to face rising TV subscription charges alongside the escalating beer tax.

"Pubs need a more competitive pricing policy, as well as alternative providers. Live sport is a key part of the pub for millions of customers, and publicans have endured huge price hikes from Sky, year after year. This has been on top of other huge pressures, such as a 42 per cent hike in Beer Tax in the last four years. We will continue to raise our concerns over prices with both Ofcom and with the company itself," she said.

In February sports lawyer Andrew Nixon warned pubs  not to misread the recent court victory of pub landlady Karen Murphy as a green light to screen football matches without a valid UK subscription.