By Jonathan Davies

The communications regulator Ofcom has launched an investigation into how the Premier League sells its TV rights for matches in the UK.

It comes after a complaint made by Virgin Media, claiming that more matches should be available for broadcast. But the Premier League said the way it sells broadcast rights is "compatible with UK and EU competition law".

The latest deal was worth £3bn - an increase of 70% on the previous contract - and was split between Sky Sports and BT Sport.

The current deal expires in 2016 and the next round of bidding is set to begin soon. But Virgin said the current process "for the 'collective' selling of live UK television rights by the Premier League for matches played by its member clubs is in breach of competition law".

Ofcom said: "Virgin Media argues that the proportion of matches made available for live television broadcast under the current Premier League rights deals - at 41% - is lower than some other leading European leagues, where more matches are available for live television broadcast."

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media's chief executive, said: "The fact remains that fans in the UK pay the highest prices in Europe to watch the least amount of football on TV. Now is the right time to look again at the way live rights are sold to make football even more accessible.

"We look forward to working constructively with the Premier League, the wider industry and Ofcom to ensure a better deal for football fans."

In a statement, the Premier League said: "We note that Ofcom has launched an inquiry. Ofcom has stated that this is at an early stage and it has not reached a view as to whether there is sufficient evidence of any infringement.

"The Premier League currently sells its audio-visual rights in a way that is compatible with UK and EU competition law and will continue to do so."

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