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BT and Warner Bros Discovery sports deal faces CMA probe

·1-min read
A detail view of BT Sport branding on the ring rope at Leicester Arena (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Archive)
A detail view of BT Sport branding on the ring rope at Leicester Arena (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Archive)

The UK competition watchdog has started an investigation into BT’s sports merger deal with Warner Bros Discovery.

Earlier this month, the telecoms giant confirmed it sealed a joint venture deal with the Eurosport owner to create a combined sports broadcasting business in the UK and Ireland.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has now announced it will assess whether the move could “result in a substantial lessening of competition”.

The regulator told both businesses that it has until July 28 to make a decision in its initial phase 1 investigation.

It could then decide whether to launch a more in-depth Phase 2 probe, which could lead to the move being blocked or new terms which could address any competition concerns.

A BT spokesman said: “The CMA routinely looks at any proposed joint venture of this sort, so this is a normal part of the process.”

The 50-50 joint venture, worth around £540 million, will combine Premier League football rights with Eurosport to create a single brand.

BT first launched its BT Sport broadcasting service in 2013 and has rapidly grown the business by spending billions on football broadcasting rights, including for the UEFA Champions League.

However, the London-listed company launched a strategic review for BT Sport last year and considered a sale.

In February, it revealed it was in exclusive talks with Warner Bros Discovery over a deal.

BT said earlier this month that the joint venture could lead to a complete sale of the sports business further down the line.

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