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Competition Policy

Sector inquiry into the provision of sports content over third generation (3G) mobile networks

This sector inquiry was a joint initiative by the Commission and the EFTA Surveillance Authority to ensure that sports content, which is critical for the take-up of new mobile services, is not held back by anticompetitive conduct. The inquiry was carried during 2004 and 2005, and involved a comprehensive review of the behaviour of all actors involved in the acquisition, resale and exploitation of mobile rights to sports events.

Around 230 organisations responded to the questionnaires sent out in 2004. Furthermore, when reviewing the data collected, the Competition DG analysed 50 case situations where competition problems arose at the time of selling third generation (3G) rights. The results of the sector inquiry gave the Commission a clear view of current market developments and the prevailing marketing and exploitation patterns along the entire value chain of sports content for mobile platforms. The findings of the sector inquiry and follow-up actions have been described in a report summarising the conclusions of the sector inquiry

The final report  was completed in September 2005. This report highlights four potentially anticompetitive business practices found during the sector inquiry, which may limit the availability of innovative mobile sport services to consumers:

  • Bundling: situations where powerful media operators have bought all audiovisual rights to premium sports in a bundle in order to secure exclusivity over all platforms with no view to exploiting or sublicensing 3G rights.
  • Embargoes: situations where overly restrictive conditions (serious time embargoes or unnecessary limitations of clip length) are imposed upon mobile rights that limit the practical availability of 3G content.
  • Joint selling: situations where 3G rights remain unexploited, because collective selling organisations do not manage to sell the 3G rights of individual sports clubs.
  • Exclusivity: exclusive attribution of 3G rights leading to the monopolisation of premium content by powerful operators.

The report invited market players to review their business practices and to redress in time possible anticompetitive effects resulting from their business practices. It also announced that the Competition DG would, together with the national competition authorities concerned, review potentially harmful case situations identified during the sector inquiry that demonstrated a national dimension.


The archive presents the preparatory work for the final report of the inquiry: the preliminary report, the statements made during its public presentation and the comments received.