BT Chair Grilled Over Premier League TV Rights
BT Chair Michael Rake said that his U.K. telecom group "had attempted an audacious raid" for Sky’s Premier League football TV rights "in the face of criticism from shareholders about the cost," according to Daniel Thomas of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Shareholders "expressed concern" about the £738M ($1.1B) spent by BT on the 38 matches at its annual meeting on Wednesday. There was also "overwhelming support" for the re-election of the board, although Rake "refused to comment on questions" linking him to the chairmanship of Barclays. BT's emphasis on content, meanwhile, is "part of its goal." BT bid for more than the 38 matches it won. That "could surprise analysts," given the effect that even its yearly £246M ($380M) deal is "expected to have on earnings in the period." CEO Ian Livingstone said that the group "would drive returns from owning the rights by bundling football packages" into its broadband and TV packages. BT will create a football-based channel that will feature the game (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/12).