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UK Watchdog Opens Probe Into Groups Including BT & Sky

 |  July 13, 2022

The UK competition regulator has opened an investigation into whether BT, IMG Media, ITV and Sky are fixing the rate offered to freelance workers who provide their services for sports broadcasts. 

The Competition and Markets Authority on Wednesday said its probe related to the purchase “of freelance services which support the production and broadcasting of sports content in the UK”. 

It will focus on the pay offered to highly skilled staff, such as camera operators and sound engineers, who work for a range of broadcasters, said two people briefed on the investigation. 

The CMA said it had “reasonable grounds” to suspect at least one breach of competition law. Its investigation will date back to 2015, according to one person briefed on the process. Camera operators and sound engineers working for broadcasters such as Sky on a freelance basis are paid a flat rate designed to cover travel and expenses as well as their work. 

One camera operator told the Financial Times that all broadcasters tended to pay the same rate and that it had not changed materially in recent years. 

“Everyone wants the rates to go up and we’d love it for [broadcasters] to compete more . . . I don’t think it’s conscious but . . . as soon as one jumps they all jump . . . we’d just like them to make more of a bold jump . . . in seven years [the day rate] has gone up £40 [to £400],” he said.