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back to article Kelvin MacKenzie blasts 'footie rights warehouse' BSkyB

The latest onslaught against media baron Rupert Murdoch comes from an unlikely assailant. Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie says he'll lodge a complaint with Ofcom over BSkyB's exclusive ownership of football rights. MacKenzie briefly ran BSkyB as its MD, after leaving the Currant Bun in 1994, and has often defended Murdoch's …

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One big problem with his pitch

The current structure at least shares the revenue around so tha a team with a small fan base like Wigan at least has a fighting chance. If they moved to per-club deals like they use in Spain, the money in concentrated at the top end and the more "unfashionable" teams are reduced to feeding from scraps.

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FAIL

Brilliant idea! Let's spread it over 5 different operators that each charge their own subscription fees! Give the consumer better choice! Who cares if it costs them an extra £20 a month to view the same amount of football they used to get with Sky!

I'm no murdoch lover but you have to hand it to Sky, they single handedly made football worth billions and now they aren't allowed to have the rights to the football any more so the consumer can have "a choice". But it's a fake choice because the matches aren't broadcast by two different channels, the two different channels just have different games. What sort of choice is that?

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Downvote?

Not sure why this got a downvote as it is a valid comment, witness what has happened to Formula 1 this year with BBC and Sky 'sharing' the races which means to watch them all you have to have access to both.

One thing not mentioned in his comment, if you pay to watch just 'your club' does that include away matches? What about cup matches? Irrespective of WHO the rights are with, someone needs rights to them all although that doesn't stop other possibilities but televising a match isn't cheap. How many clubs in the lower leagues have enough fans to cover those costs and if they do then how many fans would become armchair fans in the bad weather cutting ground revenue?

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The other problem with having pay per team is that this pushes up legal costs for the operators: They have to negotiate separately with each time. And what happens when the two teams in a game are contracted by different broadcasters ? More legal headaches. The legal costs will only be passed onto the consumer.

Whilst I can see the problems with the current arrangment, I don't think per-team contracts are the way to go. Maybe if Sky were forced to resell their packages to other operators (But I thought there were already forced to do this to a certain extent, anyway ?) Or, at least, be forced to sell-on the rights to games they're not broadcasting.

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Megaphone

Better, simpler solution

Outlaw exclusivity deals altogether. Just because one broadcaster wants to show a match, shouldn't mean nobody else is allowed to. That way, broadcasters would have to compete fairly on their own merits.

Now that everybody has a digital TV (or no pictures) nobody is limited to just five channels anymore. There is room for at least the BBC and ITV to have their own dedicated sports channels.

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Re: Better, simpler solution

absolutely agree. If the coverage is better (in terms of costs to subscribers, quality of coverage or whatever) then surely people will choose it over other broadcasters... they will adapt to what the customers want.

but you cannot do that with exclusive rights. With exclusive rights, what incentive does the broadcaster have to keep costs down for the subscribers, or to provide quality coverage in the first place...? if you want to watch it, you have to watch it on platform X, irrespective of how good or bad it is.

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Two sides to this:

Current structure does make money distribution fair. I like that.

Current structure does not make a fair market for fans to watch, and enables Sky(for instance) to operate what is in effect a monopoly, that can only be broken by charging fans more. Not by better programming, not by choice, just by money. I do not like that.

I think the EPL should be setting prices prices for matches, and who ever meets that price can show them. THAT would bring competition and increase standards. Not the system at the moment where only one broadcaster can have a package of rights for matches.

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So, er, that'd be syndication then?

That's how US TV programming is sold. It's even used for many strip cartoons carried by newspapers.

The advantage is that you still get that collective packaging-up of content, so you keep the fair distribution of money, assuming you package up each league separately. (Individual teams could still offer to show their own matches on their own website if desired; this is new territory, so theres no need to copy existing models too exactly.)

What you lose in the big exclusivity deals, you make back from sales to lots more broadcasters. It's a win-win.

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Competition on sports broadcasting

It is claimed that there is competition in broadcasting of things like football matches as no one company can have all of them -- but you still end up where one company will have the exclusive rights to an individual match. That is not competition -- if you want to watch the match you have to go to whoever has the rights and they can charge what they want.

Competition will only happen if the rights to every match must be available** to at least two broadcasters; then the football fan will be able to choose and presumably go for the cheaper. This will result in real competition and downward price pressure.

Until we have that: sports broadcasting competition will be a sham.

**available does not mean that the rights have to be taken up. There will be competition for the interesting matches, not all are 'interesting'.

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Re: Competition on sports broadcasting

Competition in sports broadcasting works exactly the same way as competition for public transport.

The bus and train companies have carved up the map so each route is served by only one operator. You are entirely free to choose to travel with a different bus/train operator, or even use a different mode of transport -- as long as you are prepared also to choose a different destination.

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Joke

So the new plan is to charge on a per game basis to different operators. Not so much 'hoarding and warehousing' as 'wearing and whorehousing' then?

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Flame

Sky have shafted football and are doing so to cricket,

darts, tennis, rugby league and any other sport they get their grubby hands on.

The recent Manchester derby/title decider got a whopping 4 million viewers! Granted this probably doesn't count all those who saw it in the pub but one of the most eagerly anticipated games of recent time is stashed away on a niche channel?

Kids can't see most sports these days unless their parents pay the Murdoch tax, cricket's fan base is being eroded as you can't watch the coverage unless you agree to have sky.

Sky haven't made football worth millions, football was doing ok thank you very much before sky came along pumped the money into the top and let the lower leagues and grass roots of the game wither. Look at Italian football, they feasted on the tv money and when that dried up the game crumbled from the top down as well as the bottom up. Spanish football is enjoying the money now but it won't last forever.

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Re: Sky have shafted football and are doing so to cricket,

Do you know what the viewing figures for other similarly high-profile eagerly anticipated games have been in recent years, particularly those that were on free-tv. For example, FA Cup finals, champions league finals, the manchester derby in the cup this year, the manchester derby in the fa cup semis last year, various all english champions league matches in recent years, even games like Chelsea-Barcelona this year? If all these free to air games attract audiences vastly bigger than 4m, then your point is valid, but in isolation an audience of 4m means nothing.

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Re: Sky have shafted football and are doing so to cricket,

IIRC the figures for ITV for 2011 Big Cup final, Man U vs Barca, was in excess of 11m people on ITV.

So yes, vastly bigger. And that was with ONE of the biggest teams in England.

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I blame the FA and FIFA

While I agree that Sky has not been a healthy influence on football, I blame the FA and FIFA just as much, and probably more.

For a very long time now, the FA (and FIFA) have not cared a sod about football. The only thing they care about is money. If they cared about football, we wouldn't have the ludicrous situation where the tickets to see a match are so expensive that only the reasonably wealthy can afford to go. We wouldn't have football clubs going bust every couple of months because player wages have reaches such stratospheric levels of stupidity. And we wouldn't have the crazy situation where a TV company has to pay millions and millions just to show a game. It wouldn't be so bad if all this money sloshing about actually went back into football. But it doesn't. Most of it goes into paying a few dozen players and shareholders, all of which play for the same handful of teams. The teams in the lower leagues hardly get a look-in, and as for any non-league teams - you know, the ones that bring new talent into the game - forget it - they get squat!

Recent events at FIFA have shown what a shambles that particular institution is. It's rotten to the core. Everyone knows it, but there's so much money at stake that nobody wants to do anything about it. The FA and FIFA are a disgrace.

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Alert

Sssh! Don't mention F1.

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Happy

That's a totally different situation but I'll bite.

* Most importantly: The original rights owner reneged out of their deal so Sky stepped in to rescue it. At least someone is still broadcasting all the races (uninterrupted by adverts) live.

* Some additional points: There is no charge for F1 on Sky if you already have the <u>basic</u> subscription required to watch the channel. Anyone with an HD subscription can watch it for free - no need to get the Sports package.

* The coverage is at least as good as the BBC. The races and qually there's basically no difference. Coverage outside of the race is much extended.

Sky rescued this year's coverage, have done a pretty good job with it and don't charge for it. The latter point is debatable of course but if you accept that Sky were the only viable rescuer then I think the point stands. You can't expect a commercial operator to take over a franchise from a government operator without some form of revenue. Was any other operator willing to take it over? Would they have broadcast the events live and uninterrupted in HD?

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Bollocks they did! The BBC wanted out sure, but the big cost is the broadcasting rights not making the programmes. The Sky deal allowed them to get a discount on the rights while them showing some races and highlights allowed Bernie to sidestep the 'free-to-air' clause in the concorde agreement.

If the deal hadn't been made the BBC would still be broadcasting all of the races live and then at the end of their contract Channel 4 would have bid for it and probably won. It was a dirty stitch-up orchestrated by the BBC so they could spend more money on pleb-numbing shit like 'The Voice'.

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Complete and utter crap:-

"* Most importantly: The original rights owner reneged out of their deal so Sky stepped in to rescue it. At least someone is still broadcasting all the races (uninterrupted by adverts) live."

While the BBC did renege on the deal, they then proceeded to do a dirty backroom deal with Sky and Ecclestone which excluded other parties who were interested in bidding (Including C4, who would have continued FTA coverage).

"* Some additional points: There is no charge for F1 on Sky if you already have the basic subscription required to watch the channel. Anyone with an HD subscription can watch it for free - no need to get the Sports package."

There is if you don't have Sky Sports or HD (or Sky at all). There are plenty of people who enjoy F1 but cannot afford Sky's prices.

"* The coverage is at least as good as the BBC. The races and qually there's basically no difference. Coverage outside of the race is much extended."

I really wouldn't know. After following F1 for years, I haven't seen a single race this year. I simply cannot be arsed to watch half a season.

"Sky rescued this year's coverage, have done a pretty good job with it and don't charge for it. The latter point is debatable of course but if you accept that Sky were the only viable rescuer then I think the point stands. You can't expect a commercial operator to take over a franchise from a government operator without some form of revenue. Was any other operator willing to take it over? Would they have broadcast the events live and uninterrupted in HD?"

Sky did not "rescue" F1 coverage. They gutted it in their dirty backroom deal which excluded viable FTA broadcasters who could have genuinely "rescued" it. Sky do charge for it, that's what that £40-odd a month debit from your bank is for. Channel 4 were interested in F1, and have gone on record to this effect and, while their coverage would probably have been interrupted with ads this would have been a far less evil than the shit-up we have now.

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Gimp

These days there is an opt-out

"Can't even watch the game or the Sugar Ray fight"

Grandmaster Flash - The Message (1982)

If you're that disgusted why not just take it for free? There are plenty of streams available. Personally I think sport is the most monopolised and over-priced form of content available, more than films, music, games, etc. There's no accounting for (or competing with) the fanaticism of some fans and their willingness to spend half their income on event/season tickets, PPVs, Sky subscriptions or £45 for a nylon t-shirt. It's close to (an evangelist) religion for many. People with a love of sport but who also have some worldly perspective simply won't subject themselves to this extortion.

The real shame of Sky et. al. is that these sports become detached from, and neglect their grass roots, particularly football, which was a working man's game. The growth of value in the game is a story of disenfranchisement for everyone except a handful of people at the top of the game (FA, FIFA, players, agents) and Sky shareholders of course. We saw recently with the Karen Murphy case how viciously determined these people are to keep milking their monopoly.

Gimp for Sky subscribers.

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£546 a year for Sky?

So Sky subscribers cough up an average of £546 a year - and people still winge about paying £145 licence fee to fund all the BBC TV and radio channels!

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

not everyone has sky. £145 is a lot if you dont earn much. should TV tax really go to the radio? i know loads of people that dont even own a radio. plus with virgin/sky you have hundreds of channels and not a couple. BBC3 and 4 rarely have anything worth watching on and if its half decent it will be on Dave after a month or 2 anyway

i have the top virgin package and sky sports HD channels but as soon as the footy finishes i cancel sky for a couple of months. yes, i know it can be expensive but me and my son love watching football. you only ever saw FA cup and international games when i was younger. no league football was on the TV.

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

Fair point, but remember that for many subscribers the Sky subscription will include phone and broadband too.

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

> not everyone has sky. £145 is a lot if you dont earn much.

If you don't earn much then you probably shouldn't expect to have access to as many services as someone that does. Nothing that Sky broadcasts is essential to life. It's all luxuries - pap and crap that are all a waste of money. Those of us with spare funds (and perhaps lacking in good sense) can choose to waste our money on it if we wish but I don't see any need to make it available for those less well off.

There's plenty of other 'pap and crap' available for free for those on a tight budget.

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

i was referring to the TV tax (license) which they want everyone to pay. im not hard up so i pay for virgin and sky sports HD. if i wanted to i could stop using them. i just feel sorry for people on the bread line who are forced to pay £145 for a couple of channels. i actually watch a fair bit of BBC so i dont mind paying the license, plus the mrs always has radio2 on. the BBC do nature programs and comedy better than anyone else so i think i get my moneys worth from them.

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What's Dave?

...says a rural resident who has to use Freesat to get a half-decent selection of digital channels (our local Freeview repeater transmitter only seems to offer BBC and ITV, in black-and-white, at 405 lines)

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Coat

Re: What's Dave?

Upvoted for mentioning 405 lines.

Now I must get my coat and back home via the tree outside my bedroom window. I left an LP on in there, with the balance arm up, so my parents will think I am still in .....

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

"Nothing that Sky broadcasts is essential to life"

Sky News is at least as good as BBC news, and IMO often a lot better.

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

"Sky News is at least as good as BBC news, and IMO often a lot better."

Really?

I'm shocked!

Adam Boulton?

Eamonn Holmes??

Tools!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £546 a year for Sky?

'Sky News is at least as good as BBC news, and IMO often a lot better'

Then your opinion is wrong

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Facepalm

Re: £546 a year for Sky?

I'm going to guess that you never actually watch either BBC or Sky News.

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

So you look to the face reading the news rather than the content?

Have a look at the Media Lens website, there are some good articles showing the apparent Governmental (whatever flavour) bias of the BBC.

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

Nobody threatens you with a criminal record if you chose not to subscribe to Sky. With the BBC you pay up whether you watch them or not. No other legal business exists where you pay someone NOT to do something. That is why people complain. And that is why the BBC had the balls to sell out F1, It makes no difference to their income. Wait until next year when Sky ratchet up the prices. F1 won't be "Free" then.

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

Hmm.,, How can i word this...

Ahh, like this....

Up yours, you pompous, stuck up b*%($£%

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

" i just feel sorry for people on the bread line who are forced to pay £145 for a couple of channels"

In which part of the UK are people "forced" to own a TV or a radio? Essex? TV and radio are luxuries, not necessities.

You could argue that TV and radio provide the basic information necessary to the democratic process, but then, the only TV broadcaster with an obligation to provide said information is the BBC. Which carries no advertising (in the UK; they show plenty of ads on the BBC News 24 and World Service channels out here in Italy) and must therefore be paid for somehow.

Also, it's a myth that the TV License ONLY pays for the BBC: Channel 4 is also partly subsidised through it, as are a number of other projects, such as the (government mandated) switch to digital, as well as rolling out rural broadband.

If you're reading this from a converted barn in the middle of a field in the arse end of Lancashire, part of the License Fee was spent on getting broadband out to your home.

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Re: £546 a year for Sky?

If you have a television you pay the TV licence fee, the lion's share of which goes to the BBC. Think of it as an annual subscription but much cheaper than Sky's. Those who have no television do not pay for the BBC but still pay, through purchasing products advertised on the channels, for ITV and even Sky.

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Nev
Stop

Are we listening to the views of the scumbag who was in charge of the Sun's coverage of Hillsborough now???!

(Views regurgitated not that long ago by Jeremy *unt.)

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Vertical vs horizontal models

It seems to be accepted that Sky has a monopoly on most sports.

British Gas, British Telecom, Electricity Boards, etc, used to have the same monopoly through end-to-end, vertical, integration to provide those old style utilites. They were re-regulated to introduce competition.

Do the same with Sky - break 'em up, change the regulation. Leave them with the wholesale layer to deal with the Premiership, the FA, Bernie Ecclestone, the PGA, etc, but keep them away from the consumer.

Then reseller can trade what he wants & provide a more flexible feed to the consumer. Maybe not pay per view but get what you want, not what the platform proscribes. If I want the F1 channel I buy access from an intermediary: maybe my cellco, maybe my ISP.

Consumer choice.

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IT Angle

Football...

Isn't that the game where millionaires with stupid haircuts run around after a ball and fall over in agony whenever there is a mild gust of wind?

And the ball is the wrong shape.

Signed

An egg chaser.

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Megaphone

For once I agree with kelvin

As another ex-sky employee, for once I agree with Kelvin. Why oh why the competiton authorities haven't intervened in what is a private sector monopoly is surely nothing to do with Mutdoch's hitherto undue influence over government policy.

Spare a thought for the the commercial sector (pubs clubs etc ) for they are even more shafted. There is no competiton at all for commercial sports roghts in the UK, no Virgin, BT etc... How has this been allowed?

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Devil

rats....ships.....deserting

spawn od satan = Kelvin Mackenzie

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Angel

Something completely different, PLEASE...

Here in The Colonies, Sky (repacked as as Fox Soccer Network) is simply *dreadful*... I figure the audience here is about a tenth of what if COULD be if a network made an effort to actually present the matches properly. A small handful of Premier matches are doled out with a virtual eyedropper, then replayed into the dirt. And most of the time, I can't even views goals online, after the fact. Most football websites, CAN send me a half dozen targeted adverts for burger and chip places within walking distance of my South Carolina home, but "we're sorry, this video is not available in your region..." As for the lower divisions, I think it would be less trouble to hack secret NASA footage of a grey alien flashing both of his bums at the ISS. I love the sport, but would ALSO love to see another provider with a little more regard for the welfare of the sport...

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Anonymous Coward

Meh!

There is an assumption that pumping money into the sport is a good thing.

It is handy for those at the top (ooh, another Ferrari!) but does it actually create better football? Does someone play better football for 5 million than they would for 100,000?

I would agree that at the lower end, being paid and thus able to spend more time training should improve things, but that isn't where most of the money appears to go.

The problem is that licensing works like credit. Cash being pumped in pushes up the costs as the good players are paid more. The smaller clubs will lose talent faster, because the incentive for players to move is greater, so they need more financial support, so we need more license fees, which push up costs... Also, concentrating the talent means that the skills are not shared with and learnt by, lesser players.

We now have a bigger industry around football, but is society's enjoyment of football greater since Murdoch? If not, perhaps we just let anyone film it and see who can add value in broadcast quality, commentary and distribution.

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