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

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Abstract:

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

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/JML.4.2.213

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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