The European Commission (EC) said this week it was 'happier' with the bidding process for Premiership rights following the Premier League's decision to offer a fourth package, writes Rosemary Gallagher.
Splitting the third bronze package of 62 games played at 13.00 or 17.15 on Saturdays into two smaller and cheaper packages - as revealed by Broadcast last week - has attracted tenders from "other bidders", according to sources close to the deal.These other bidders are believed to include the BBC and ITV, who would have struggled to pay enough for an entire package under the previous three-tier, gold, silver and bronze tender.EC spokesman Tilman Lueder, who last week warned the Premiership that it must make TV rights accessible to as wide a number of broadcasters and media operators as possible, said the EC was pleased with the new offer."The main point about the packages is that they must be attractive to a variety of bidders. The changes make it better than before," he said.The EC is understood to want a terrestrial broadcaster to acquire some rights.However, BSkyB is believed to have still gone for all four live packages with a bid of about the same value -£1.1bn - as it paid for its current three-year deal, which ends at the close of the 2003/4 season.The EC's focus has now switched to the new media elements of the deal.EC competition commissioner Mario Monti wants to sees a live package available for mobile phones, as with the German Bundesliga. The Premiership has not offered such a package. A Premiership spokesman said: "We are allowing joint bids and the rights packages can be broken up by bidders working together. The deal allows for endless permutations with multiple broadcasters.