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15th Feb 2019

EU raids Murdoch firm in sport 'cartel' probe

  • EU competition probe is looking into companies active in the distribution of media rights when it comes to sporting events (Photo: bildungsr0man)

European Commission officials on Tuesday (10 April) raided offices of sports media rights companies as part of an anti-trust investigation.

In a statement, the Brussels-executive said the companies may have violated rules that "prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices".

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The probes took place in several EU states.

When asked which member states, a European commission spokesperson told this website "sorry, we don't give out that information".

One of raided offices was the London branch of 21st Century Fox, a media giant owned by Rupert Murdoch.

A Fox Networks Group spokesperson was cited in British media as saying they are fully cooperating with the Commission.

The Commission inspectors were accompanied by their national counterparts and are said to have seized documents and computer records from the London office, according to The Telegraph, a British newspaper, which broke the story.

The Commission says the unannounced inspections, which were carried out in several EU states, are a preliminary step into suspected anticompetitive practices.

The annual sale of exclusive broadcast rights for football league games in Europe is worth billions.

The moves come amid broader fears that the Murdoch media empire may be seizing too much public influence following an earlier probe by the UK competition and markets authority.

The issue revolved around Murdoch's attempt last year to take over Sky News, for some €12.9b, which would then allow Disney to buy out 21st Century Fox. US giant Comcast had also offered to buy Sky earlier this year.

UK culture secretary Karen Bradley at the time said any such takeover may "increase members of the Murdoch Family Trust's ability to influence the overall news agenda and their ability to influence the political process".

The same bid, however, had been approved by the EU, posing broader questions on the unannounced inspection on Tuesday.

The Commission says there is no legal deadline to complete the inquiries. It is unclear how long each case will take.

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