By Jonathan Davies
Virgin Media has asked Ofcom to delay the bidding for the next round of TV broadcast rights for Premier League football.
Ofcom launched an investigation into the bidding process in November after Virgin made a complaint about it. Now, Virgin says the bidding should be delayed until the investigation is complete.
When it made the complaint, Virgin said the way rights were sold breaches competition rules and that too few matches are available for broadcast.
The Premier League, which sells the broadcast rights, dismissed Virgin's complaint as "self-serving". It is also understood that the Premier League is confident that Ofcom will dismiss the calls to delay the bidding.
The current deal was worth an unprecedented £3bn over three years, 70% more than any previous contract. The Premier League is expected to close the bidding process for the 2016/17-2018/19 seasons in the next few weeks.
In a statement Virgin said: "The Premier League has pushed ahead with its early sale of TV rights despite Ofcom's investigation.
"With 18 months until those deals begin, there is plenty of time for Ofcom to pause the auction process while it completes its inquiries.
"Failure to do so will leave fans, who already pay the most to see the least amount of football in Europe, facing yet another big rise in the cost of watching live football on TV."
The Premier League today announced that BBC will retain the broadcast rights for Premier League highlights for the next three seasons in a deal worth £204m, 13.5% more than the previous deal.
The new deal means that BBC will continue to air Match of the Day and its Sunday morning repeat, Match of the Day 2, Football Focus and a brand new, midweek magazine show on BBC Two.
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