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Bertrand Traore - Call off the search

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By ESPN Staff

Premier League consider UK TV rights bids

Premier League chiefs remained silent about the bids they have received for television rights packages today.

The deadline for applicants passed at 2pm and it is possible that a decision could be made by this evening.

Sky remained favourite to land five of the six packages of 23 Premiership games, with a group of other companies competing for packages too.

The broadcaster currently has exclusive rights but the European Commission stepped in to make sure others also get access to live Premiership coverage.

A Premier League spokesman declined to reveal if any decisions have been made on the submitted bids.

He said there was no timescale for a decision, but company bosses would like contracts to be agreed before the beginning of next season.

The winners of the auction will be able to show matches for three years starting in 2007.

Irish pay TV operator Setanta is thought to be the company most likely to secure a package.

But other companies including cable firm NTL, ITV and Channel 4 are also thought to have been potential bidders.

The European Commission reached an agreement with the Premier League in March, in which the football company said it would distribute media rights more widely.

The commitment, which will remain in force until 2013, is expected to increase competition and ultimately provide a better service to football fans.

It ended a long-running legal wrangle in which the Commission said current arrangements deprived fans of choice, led to higher prices and discouraged innovation.

The agreement led to a rule that no single buyer could sweep up all the rights, while creating new, more evenly balanced packages.

It also increased the availability of rights to broadcast via mobile phones, in keeping with the demands of changing technology.