Ofcom Proposes Forcing Sky to Share Content

"The most appropriate way of ensuring fair and effective competition."

Ofcom has been conducting its current Pay TV consultation for some time now, but it looks like some progress is being made. At least if so new proposals relating to “the restricted distribution of premium sports and movies channels operated by BSkyB” make it seem.

Ofcom believes, and many of us would agree I’m sure, than Sky is being overly restrictive in the way it makes its premium sports and movie content available to other broadcasters. Ofcom’s proposal is for Sky to be obliged to offer its premium channels to other retailers – say, Virgin Media, or even Freesat potentially – on a wholesale basis, at regulated prices, “promoting choice and innovation.” Ofcom’s suggested pricing structure would be “above the level required to allow Sky to make a reasonable return on its costs” besides which Sky’s revenues would likely increase anyway due to increased viewership.

Ofcom is also considering intervening with Sky’s subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) content and the next FA Premier League auction. As regard films, Ofcom reckons that although Sky holds SVoD rights for all the major film studios but fails to exploit that on its satellite platform. Ofcom suggests that VoD licences should be separate from ‘standard’ subscription rights, which they currently aren’t. Ofcom says it will be talking to the Premier League regarding its next broadcast rights auction in 2012 – although the full details of what’s to be talked about aren’t mentioned.

Obviously these are just proposals currently, so we shouldn’t all go throwing “down with Sky’s monopoly” parties right away. It may be worth getting a couple of quotes from some caterers, though, just in case.


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