A Nationalist MP is embarking on a campaign to ensure viewers can watch unrestricted football on television without the need to subscribe to two operators.

David Agius contends that an exclusive agreement should not prevent a TV company which owns the rights from selling content to its competitor.

The Nationalist whip told The Sunday Times it was not justifiable for football fans to pay more than €50 a month to be able to watch both the Champions League and Italian or English domestic leagues from next season.

Go has obtained the exclusive rights to both the Italian and English domestic leagues from 2010 to 2012, leaving football enthusiasts with no choice but to switch operator if they still want to watch their team at home.

But football lovers are in a bigger quandary since Melita has retained the exclusive rights of the popular Champions League.

Kicking off the campaign 'Let us watch football' in the run-up to the start of the 2010 World Cup, Mr Agius said he would be approaching other MPs to join him in his cause and refer the matter to the social affairs committee in Parliament.

All operators and interested parties, including the Broadcasting Authority and Public Broadcasting Services, will be called in to give their views and opinions about the case.

Mr Agius said he intended to probe the matter in detail - and become a consumers' champion in the process - by encouraging local operators and authorities to follow the UK model.

The UK communications regulator had established that all TV operators should have the opportunity to broadcast the leagues on their platforms and ensure a level playing field for all other companies who will then compete with their rivals on value for money and service - and not according to the sports content.

For example, Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 are sold to rivals such as BT, Virgin and Top Up TV. The British regulator has even intervened to the extent of forcing Sky to cut its wholesale prices.

Mr Agius is determined to see his campaign through: "It's about time local operators started sharing - Melita should have a right to buy the matches from Go - even if Go has the exclusivity for the matches... and the same goes for Melita, which should sell its Champions League matches to other providers."

He cited as a good example of consumer fairness the agreement signed by Public Broadcasting Services which teamed up with other small countries to buy the rights to air 46 of the 64 World Cup matches - while Melita bought the rights from the national broadcaster.

Broadcasting experts said Mr Agius was right to use the UK model as an example of spreading the net of TV football coverage. But it was up to the local authorities to introduce legislation obliging the operator to sell content, if the contract signed permits it. The legislation will also determine the costs of sharing the content.

Melita had blamed the dramatic increase in the costs charged for the English Premier League for its decision to drop the broadcasting of the popular league. Go pounced at the opportunity, also obtaining the Italian matches - and several clients in the process.

Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando had similarly steered a campaign in 2006, coming out strongly against a deal reached by Melita Cable giving it the exclusive right to broadcast all 64 World Cup matches locally.


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