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Joint selling of media rights to Danish football

31. October 2007

Journal nr. 4/0120-0204-0052/TUK/MIK The Council meeting 31 October 2007

On October 31st 2007 the Danish Competition Council adopted a decision in which the council made the commitments offered by the Danish Football Association (DBU) and the Danish League Association (DIV) in relation to joint selling of media rights to Danish Football legally binding. Reference is made to § 16a in the Danish Competition Act.

DBU organises and arranges all official football tournaments in Denmark, for instance the Super League (Superligaen) and 1st division (1. division). DBU holds the media rights to these tournaments but not to the actual matches.

DIV is an association consisting of the Super League and 1st division clubs, among others. DIV is authorised by DBU and the clubs to conduct negotiations concerning media rights to football matches in Denmark to which DBU and DIV’s members, respectively, hold the rights. The clubs hold rights to their own home matches.

The most important media rights are the live broadcasting rights for matches between the teams in the Super League. How ever when marketing and selling the rights DBU/DIV also included rights for other platforms and deferred rights such as highlights form matches or media rights to other tournaments such as the next best league or the National Cup Tournament.

The Danish Competition Authority had identified a number of issues in relation to the competition regulation:

(i) The media rights are sold jointly

(ii) The media rights are sold exclusively

(iii) The media rights are sold for up to 5 years per contract

(iv) The media rights are sold to one single broadcaster

(v) The contract concerning the media rights contains a clause that ensures the broadcaster the right to exclusive negotiations regarding an extension of the contract

The media rights had not been out for a tender since 1998. In December 2006 DBU/DIV announced that the existing contract concerning the media rights once again had been extended, this time until 2013. If this contract had come in to effect, the media rights would not have been put out for a tender in 15 years.

Following this the Danish Competition Authority addressed DBU/DIV with its objections to the joint selling. Reference was made to § 6 in the Danish Competition Act and article 81 EU.

In order to meet these objections DBU/ DIV offered the following commitments:

(i) All media rights shall be put out for an open non-discriminatory tender. Bids may be negotiated on the basis of the bid submitted.

(ii) The media rights shall be split into a number of packages.

(iii) There shall be separate packages containing exclusive and non-exclusive media rights and there shall be separate packages for different media platforms.

(iv) All packages containing rights for live broadcasting of matches in the Super League cannot be acquired by one single broadcaster. How ever all packages may be awarded a single broadcaster if only one or two broadcasters bid for the rights. If this is the case special rules concerning the tender apply.

(v) Packages are awarded to the bidders on the basis of the combination that overall is the most economically advantageous tender for DBU/DIV.

(vi) The rights can be awarded for a period of maximum 3 years per tender.

(vii) A monitoring trustee will follow the tender, the negotiation and the awarding process.

The commitments will come into force immediately and there will be no termination date. How ever in the event of significant changes in the market DBU/DIV may request for re-negotiation of the commitments.

These commitments align with the principles set out in previous decisions adopted by the European Commission.