EU eyes spreading broadcast wealth in soccer

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BRUSSELS -- The European Union needs new rules for sports media rights so that broadcast money can be spread equally between big and small clubs, a key European Parliament committee said Tuesday.

The call comes after growing concerns about the sharp rise in broadcasting rights, particularly in soccer, and the widening gulf between rich and poor clubs.

MEPs in the Parliament's Education and Culture Committee called on EU governments, "to adopt a common practice as regards the sale of media rights so as to ensure that big clubs are not the only ones to benefit."

The report, drafted by Greek conservative Manolis Mavrommatis, urged EU governments to back collective selling as a way to boost competition, and reinforce links between sport's professional and amateur sides.

"Collective selling of rights can be important for the redistribution of income and can thus be a tool for achieving greater solidarity within sports," the report said.

The report, due to be ratified by the full Parliament in May, said that television rights are the primary source of income for professional sport in Europe "and, conversely, sport media rights are a decisive source of content for many media operators."

The Parliament report comes nine months after the European Commission -- the EU's antitrust authority -- said that sports federations should have the right to negotiate television deals jointly rather than allowing clubs to strike individual deals. The EC said that collective selling could ensure that the money gained filters down to smaller clubs, but warned that it did not automatically lead to an equitable redistribution of the revenue.
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