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Telenet failed to block BBC’s Superbowl broadcast

VRT Radio 2's consumer affairs programme ‘De Inspecteur’ reports that Flanders’ biggest cable company Telenet failed to block the BBC One signal it distributes to its customers during the British public broadcaster’s broadcast of the Superbowl on Sunday night. Telenet’s biggest competitor Proximus TV did block the signal to its customers across Belgium for the duration of the game.

The pay sport channel Eleven Sport had the exclusive rights to broadcast the Superbowl final in Belgium and as such the BBC One signal should have been blocked.

In Flanders those with cable or ADSL/VDSL television services have access to the broadcasts of public service and some leading commercial television channels from other European countries.

However, sometimes there are rights issues, particularly with sporting events, that mean that the company in charge of the television platform has to block the signal. This is a regular occurrence in the case of the Italian public broadcaster RAI’s channels that are available as part of a standard subscription to viewers here in Belgium.

However, this rarely happens with the BBC and viewers here can watch a host of sporting events ranging from the six nations rugby to golf on BBC One and BBC Two.

This was not the case on Sunday though and as Eleven Sports had the exclusive rights to the Superbowl in Belgium it should not have been available on another channel.


BBC asked Proximus to block broadcast

A spokesperson for Proximus told VRT radio that the BBC contacted their company to ask for the BBC One signal to blocked during the Superbowl as the BBC only had the rights to broadcast it in the UK. Furthermore as Eleven Sports had the exclusive rights for Belgium, the match could not be broadcast by another tv channel available to Belgian viewers.

However, Telenet claims that it received an e-mail from the BBC saying that it didn’t need to block the BBC One Superbowl broadcast.  

American Football’s governing body the NFL is to contact both Telenet and the BBC for an explanation. The NFL sells country-specific rights to the Superbowl and as with the broadcasting rights for many other sporting events, a lot of money is involved.

The smaller TV provider Orange also failed to block BBC One during the Superbowl. However, this may be less of an issues as Orange subscribers can watch Eleven Sports as part of their basic subscription package. 

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