By Jonathan Davies

Virgin Media has formally asked Ofcom to investigate the arrangement by which the Premier League sells its TV rights in the UK.

The cable TV operator believes customers are being forced to pay too high a price to watch football.

Virgin Media does not currently bid for rights to broadcast Premier League matches, instead opting for an arrangement with BSkyB and BT which allows its customers to watch matches shown on SkySports and BT Sport.

Premier League broadcasting rights were sold to SkySports and BT Sport for £3 billion during the last auction in 2012, a 70% increase on the previous deal.

And after BT Sport secured exclusive broadcasting rights for the UEFA Champions League from the 2015/16 season, the price of a Premier League deal is expected to go up again this season.

Brigitte Trafford, Virgin Media’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, said: "The rapidly rising cost of Premier League live broadcast rights means UK fans pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV."

Virgin Media said UK fans must pay £51 per month if they want to be able to watch matches on both SkySports and BT Sport. The prices are much lower in Europe. Italian fans pay around £25, German £21, Spanish £18 and French fans as low as £10.

"Virgin Media has asked Ofcom to investigate how the rights are sold ahead of the next auction," Ms Trafford said.

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