Call for pay-per-view ombudsman

An ombudsman should regulate pay-per-view television, says the solicitor planning legal action in the wake of the heavyweight boxing title fight fiasco.

Stephen Alexander, a partner at six-month-old London firm Class Law, is representing television viewers and ringside fans infuriated by the drawn fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield.

Commentators have accused promoters of a “fix” in the contest which most neutrals felt Lewis, the British boxer, had won.

Alexander has written a letter to sports minister Tony Banks on behalf of more than 300 clients hoping to sue either the fight's promoters or BSkyB, which televised the bout.

Alexander says in his letter to Banks: “If Mr Lewis feels cheated then so do the viewers, as what they saw was not a proper fight.

“Unfortunately, the viewers' only contract is with the television company and not the promoters and, therefore, subscribers may be forced to bring action against Sky

television as it is the only way they can reach the promoters and the boxing boards of control.

“There seems to be a significant loophole in either the law or codes of practice in relation to pay-per-view as it should not be necessary for millions of viewers who have been cheated to seek redress through the law.

“No doubt, it will also be a matter for Sky television to examine their own contracts with promoters so as to bring better protection for their paying customers.”

Alexander told The Lawyer: “There needs to be some sort of ombudsman or arbitration to settle pay-per-view disputes.”

His firm is representing 250 fans who travelled to the bout and 50 who watched it on television.