Ofcom To Probe Clash Between BT, BSkyB Over Channel Sharing
Broadcasting regulator Ofcom "has opened an investigation" into BSkyB’s refusal to let BT carry two of its key sports channels, in "a sign of growing tensions between the two companies," according to Robert Budden of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The investigation by Ofcom "follows a complaint by BT" after BSkyB told the telecom operator that it would offer its Sky Sports 1 and 2 channels to BT’s YouView customers, but "only as long as BT sold access to its soon to be launched sports channels to Sky." The telecom operator "refused, insisting that such an offer was an abuse of Sky’s dominant position under the Competition Act" (FT, 6/19). In London, Josh Halliday reported BT claimed that Sky "had refused to supply its flagship sports channels to YouView unless the telecoms company agreed to offer wholesale its new BT Sport channel." Currently, Sky customers "can only watch BT Sport by purchasing a separate BT subscription." But Sky "wants to be able to bundle BT Sport into its existing subscription package for football fans." BSkyB Group Dir of Sales Graham McWilliam said, "In long negotiations with BT, we have tried hard to uphold a simple principle of mutual supply so that both of us would offer all our customers all Premier League matches from next season. However, BT has remained intent on a one-way deal which is loaded in its favour. This is not something that we -- or anyone else -- could reasonably have been expected to agree to" (GUARDIAN, 6/19). The BBC reported the BT complaint comes a week after Sky complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about BT's "adverts for its new sports service." Sky's complaint centers around BT's claim that it will provide "free" EPL coverage to its broadband customers, with Sky arguing that "there are other costs involved" (BBC, 6/19).