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IP/04/1110

Brussels, 17 September 2004

New cartel procedure used for the first time for the liberalisation of the central marketing of Bundesliga rights

For the first time the Commission has published commitments in the Official Journal that it will declare binding under the new antitrust Regulation (EC) No 1/2003. The undertakings were given by the German Football League (DFL) regarding the marketing of rights to broadcast Bundesliga matches. The revised agreement reached with the DFL will further liberalise broadcasting rights, particularly in connection with new media, such as UMTS and broadband internet. German football fans will have the chance to see more live matches.

Competition Commissioner Mario Monti welcomed the improvements: “Top-class sport is crucial for encouraging the growth of the new media. More live broadcasting rights for the new media will benefit consumers, the media and the clubs.”

Monti also commented on the first use of the new commitments procedure. Under the new rules commitments can be legally binding. This is the first time that the commitments have been published in the Official Journal[1] and on the internet. “The fact that we have been able to make swift and effective use of a new legal instrument in a difficult area shows how successful modernisation has been. The procedure increases transparency for all market operators,” said Monti.

More live broadcasting rights and an improved marketing model

The main objective of the procedure is to open up the central marketing of Bundesliga broadcasting rights without destroying it. Clubs will be able to market the rights in certain areas but will still benefit from the “one-stop-shop” for the league brand and face lower transaction costs. The changes to the marketing rules took account of the consultations that took place in October 2003[2] and have resulted in the following improvements:

  • From the start of the 2006/7 season every match day the League will offer at least 90 minutes live reporting with all highlights on the internet. In addition to the products offered by the League, from the 2006/7 season clubs will also be able to market their home games themselves directly after the final whistle has blown.
  • Clubs will be able to show their matches live via mobile phones.

This will make it possible to offer attractive new services. “The liberalisation of the Bundesliga marketing rules will help encourage innovation and competition in the media,” explained Monti.

Background

The entry into force of the new Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 on 1 May 2004 changed the legal framework governing the Bundesliga case. The legal changes have done away with the traditional system of notification and authorisation. The new procedure is intended to make commitments given by the DFL binding on the organisation and subsequently to stop proceedings.

Before the final decision is adopted the public hearing that takes place under Article 27(4) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 gives all interested parties the chance to submit their observations within the framework of the new procedure.


[1] OJ C 229/13, 14.9.2004.

[2] OJ C 261/13, 30.10.2003; see also IP/03/1106.


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