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BT scores against Sky in Court of Appeal football ruling

BT and Sky’s legal kickabout over wholesale access to sports channels continues, with the Court of Appeal ordering that a second review of prices take place. 

The Court has ruled that previous findings by the CAT (Competition Appeal Tribunal), which overturned an Ofcom ruling in 2010, did not address the full scope of the market. 

Ofcom had previously ruled that Sky would have to offer Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 on a wholesale basis to all TV providers that wanted the sports channels.  

BT scores against Sky in Court of Appeal football ruling
Yellow card: The Court of Appeal orders a second review

Sky objected and took the decision to the CAT who then overruled Ofcom’s decision. While the Court of Appeal’s ruling doesn’t mean that Sky will have to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 on a wholesale basis, the CAT will have to review its original ruling. 

A Sky spokesperson told Recombu that the company intends to fight against the decision to have ‘WMO’ (Wholesale Must Offer) conditions imposed on it. The spokesperson said: 

“This does not alter in any way the CAT’s fundamental findings, overturning Ofcom, that Sky engaged constructively with other distributors over the supply of its premium sports channels, and that Virgin Media is able to compete effectively with Sky on the basis of Sky’s rate card prices.

“Sky continues to believe that Ofcom’s 2010 decision is flawed and that the WMO obligation ought properly to be removed, and will continue to pursue all available options to achieve this aim.”

A BT spokesperson said: “We are glad that this issue will now be considered afresh and are hopeful that the outcome will finally deliver increased competition in pay TV which would be in the best interests of consumers.
 
“Ofcom was correct to impose the wholesale must offer (“WMO”) on Sky and this remains essential to address the significant competition concerns with Sky’s supply of its channels.” 

The spokesperson added that BT remains unable to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 on YouView, alongside its own BT Sport channels. While BT can offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 on its older BT Vision box, it’s unable to promote its newer YouView-based service. 

TalkTalk currently offers customers the option of subscribing to Sky Sports 1-4 and Sky Sports F1 for £30/month with its own YouView-based TalkTalk TV platform. TalkTalk TV doesn’t currently offer BT Sport, meaning there’s currently no way to get both Sky Sports and BT Sport on any YouView-based TV platform. BT and TalkTalk are YouView shareholders along with BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel Five and Arqiva. 

Image: Ronnie Macdonald/Flickr

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