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Sports rights bubble ripe to burst predicts EBU D-G

Speaking at the annual Public Broadcasters International (PBI) conference in London this week, EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre said public service media  can restore common sense and values to a precariously swollen ‘sports rights’ bubble’.

Opening a session titled Sports Rights – should PSBs stay in the game? the EBU Director General warned that the modern sports industry is built on strategies that value enormous, fast profits above all else.

“This short-termism is one reason why there is such a high turnover of managers and coaches – especially in football,” she said, noting that players’ wages are commonly the greatest expense in sport. “Worryingly, these developments show all the characteristics of a typical bubble”. Ms Deltenre added.

The solution, she proposed, lies in taking the “listing” of sports further and tightening regulation of sports coverage to protect “national interests and domestic sports”.

“A free-to-air requirement on sports that are on this slippery slope would put the brakes on and restore common sense,” she said.

The Director General vowed that the EBU will continue striving to secure both the sport rights of Members and free access to sports programming for their audiences: “Because sport can make a valuable contribution to the development of a society. Because sport is an integral part of the programming of a public broadcaster. [And] Because public broadcasters are important to help overcome harmful developments in the commercialization of sports.”