'Exclusive broadcast rights anti-competitiveÂ' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Exclusive broadcast rights anti-competitiveÂ’

LAHORE: The anti-trust watchdog has warned the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) against giving exclusive World Cup 2011 telecast rights and asked it to refrain from entering into any exclusive agreement in the future that violates the anti-trust law.

The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) took notice of the exclusive rights granted by Pemra to Geo Super, a sports channel owned by the Geo Television Network. The sports channel had obtained exclusive rights to telecast all cricket matches of World Cup 2011 on cable and satellite under an exclusive agreement with ESPN. Pemra later on withdrew from the agreement.

The CCP warning comes just days ahead of the Supreme Court of Pakistan hearing of a constitutional petition filed by the Geo network against Pemra’s decision of abandoning the agreement.

The Cricket World Cup 2011 will kick-start on February 19 in Dhaka and the final will be played on April 2 in Mumbai. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are co-hosting the event while Pakistan was denied hosting rights due to security concerns.

The CCP has written a letter to Pemra drawing its attention to a news item published in a daily newspaper pertaining to exclusive rights for Geo Super to telecast all Cricket World Cup 2011 matches. The CCP warned Pemra that such exclusive telecast rights violate the very spirit of the Competition Act, 2010.

Under Section 4 of the Competition Act 2010, the agreements in respect of distribution or provision of services which has the object or effect of preventing, restricting or reducing competition within the relevant market are against the very notion of competition.

However, the Act carries an exemption clause that provides an opportunity to the contracting parties to seek an exemption from the CCP before striking exclusive agreements. The Commission asked the Independent Media Group and ESPN to provide a copy of their said exclusive agreement and seek an exemption under the Competition Act. The CCP may or may not allow the groups to enter into exclusive agreement.
Source: The Express Tribune
Date:1/18/2011