New cartel procedure used for the first time with regard to Bundesliga rights

20 January 2005

Filip Ragolle

In the Bundesliga media rights case, the Commission indicated (for the first time) its intention to use an important new instrument under the new anti-trust procedural Regulation No 1/2003, i.e. the possibility to make commitments legally binding and subsequently close the anti-trust investigation.

The commitments were given by the German Football League (DFL) regarding the marketing of the media rights to German first and second division matches. The revised agreement reached with the DFL is aimed at opening up the joint selling of these rights, particularly in connection with new media, such as UMTS and broadband internet. Under the new system, the broadcasting rights will be sold in a number of separate packages avoiding one single broadcaster acquiring all the rights. From the start of the 2006/7 season on every match day, the League will offer at least 90 minutes live reporting with all highlights on the internet. In addition, as from the same season, the football clubs will be able to market their home games themselves after the final whistle has blown. The clubs will also be able to show their matches live via mobile phones.

As required under Regulation 1/2003, the Commission has published a summary of these commitments in the Official Journal, inviting interested third parties to submit their comments. This is the first public consultation under Regulation 1/2003 and the first time that the Commission proposes to use its powers to make commitments binding under Article 9(1) of Regulation 1/2003.

Source: Case COMP/C2./37.214 – Joint selling of the media rights to the German Bundesliga, Article 27(4) Notice, Official Journal N° C 229, 14.09.2004, p.13.