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Competition Law, Sports, and Public Service Broadcasting: The Legal Complexity and Political Sensitivity of Measuring Market Distortion and Public Value

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Questions on the legitimacy of public funding for public service broadcasting have been raised under two pillars of EU competition law: the antitrust rules and the state aid rules. Complaints of private competitors focus inter alia on the excessive amount of sports broadcasting rights acquired by public broadcasters and their umbrella organization the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). This would be evidence of overcompensation and, subsequently, unlawful market distortion. In this article, the authors analyses a selection of European Commission competition decisions concerning public service broadcasting and sports broadcasting rights and related case law. The innovative, combined analysis of the antitrust and state aid practice reveals the Commission's struggle to exempt certain public service broadcasting practices from competition law principles on the basis of public value arguments. The authors conclude that there is a need for empirical advancement when analyzing market distortion and identifying remedies.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • The only platform for focused, rigorous analysis of global developments in media law, this new peer-reviewed journal is:

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    It turns the spotlight on all those aspects of law which impinge on and shape modern media practices - from regulation and ownership, to libel law and constitutional aspects of broadcasting such as free speech and privacy, obscenity laws, copyright, piracy, and other aspects of IT law. The result is the first journal to take a serious view of law through the lens.


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