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The Consumer Council to the Ministries of Sport and Communications: Intervene for the regulation of the broadcasting of sports events

The football season is about to begin and following leakage of sports broadcastings from free channels to pay-per-view channels open only to customers of cable and satellite companies, the CEO of the Consumer Council, lawyer Ehud Peleg, has sent a letter to the Minister of Sport Mrs. Miri Regev and to the Minister of Communications, Benjamin Netanyahu, asking them to intervene for the regulation of sports events broadcasting.

The price of full sports package (Champions League + local league) costs in Israel 290 NIS per month, while only in Spain and in the UK, the consumers pay more. Hot – the package including all the sports channels costs 287 NIS (+149 NIS for installation). Yes – The package including all sports channels costs 310 NIS (+49 NIS for installation).

In a letter his, the CEO of the Consumer Council wrote: "I am honored to send you this letter, in light of the transfer of the broadcasting of the main game in the football and basketball Champions Leagues from Channel 1 to the Sports Channel and in light of the decision of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council dated 06/30/2016 to authorize in principle satellite and cable companies to air the two new premium pay-per-view sports channels".

"Broadcasting sports games in channels designated only for subscribers of cable and satellite companies raise a concern regarding serious harm to a large group of customers watching TV programs in the open channels using Digital Terrestrial Television ("Eidan + ") and therefore, who cannot watch the games broadcasted in these channels."

"According to information received at the Israel Consumer Council, as of 2013, about 500,000 households are not subscribers in cable companies and those households watch television broadcasts using Digital Terrestrial Television.
"Therefore, the sale of broadcasting rights to cable and satellite companies, and the decision of the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting confirming the leakage of main sports games from free channels to pay-per-view channels open only to subscribers of cable and satellite companies, raises a concern regarding the probable discrimination of a large group of consumers, obliging sports fans to spend substantial amounts of money every month to watch the programs".

"The principle establishing the right of the public to have access to major sports broadcasts within the national framework or for free has already been recognized by the authorities and constitutes an appropriate expression of the constitutional principles of equality and the right to know. A creeping infringement of these principles must not be made possible and of course, should not be favored upon the narrow economic interests of elements working in this field".

"In light of the above, the Israeli Consumer Council believes that a regulatory intervention of the Ministries of Communications and Culture is required in order to establish that wherever broadcasting rights of sports events are sold, the major broadcasting will be transmitted in channels exempted of payment so that users of Digital Terrestrial Television may also watch those programs".

"In addition, the Consumer Council believes that the mix of channels in the Digital Terrestrial Television should also include the sports channel as an open channel, as the beginning of a process of expanding the package of channels included in order to provide a competition to the cable and satellite channels and to lower the prices of subscription for the consumers. As we know, the Digital Terrestrial Television is a blessed initiative made by the government aimed to promote competition and to increase access to basic television channels for the consumers. The inclusion of the sports channel in the channel mix will promote this purpose and will meet the needs of the wide public of viewers who will be able to find a satisfying response to its needs in this area and will substitute the expensive subscriptions packages".

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The Israel Consumer Council is the largest consumer organization in Israel. It is a statutory, non-profit corporation which works to defend consumers and protect their rights, by handling complaints, seeking solutions..