Virgin Media's attempt to delay the upcoming auction of Premier League TV rights has failed, after Ofcom rejected the service provider's recent request.
Acting upon concerns originally raised by Virgin Media in November, Ofcom opened an investigation under section 25 of the Competition Act 1998 into the joint selling arrangements for top-flight football.
The regulator is due to report its findings in March 2015, however the Premier League is set to auction off the TV rights for 2016-17 and beyond this month.
As such, Virgin Media requested an interim measures direction, hoping to delay the TV auction until after Ofcom reports back with its initial findings.
Sadly for the cable operator, the media regulator has refused to play ball.
Having considered submissions from Virgin Media and the Premier League, Ofcom has decided there is no urgent need to intervene and delay the auction.
The regulator said there will be "a significant gap", of around 17 months, between the auction and the start of the 2016-2017 season, when the new TV rights deal comes into effect.
It believes this is a long enough period of time for the Premier League and Premier League clubs to make changes to their broadcasting arrangements should Ofcom decide they are necessary.
The Premier League has assured Ofcom that it will accept any post-auction intervention, and will put in place contractual arrangements with TV rights purchasers to that extent.
Ofcom said its investigation is "ongoing" and will consider the potential harm to competition and consumers arising from joint selling under the auction.
Virgin Media's argument centres around the fact that the rules encourage exclusivity of TV coverage, which continues to drive demand and push the cost of the TV rights upwards.
With BT and Sky expected to fight hard for the bulk of the Premier League rights, the value of the next TV deal is expected to rise significantly from the combined £3 billion paid for top-flight football coverage between 2013-14 and 2015-16.
Virgin Media believes further costs will be pushed on to UK consumers, who already pay some of the highest prices for TV sport in Europe.