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Ofcom approves Sky’s BT Sport ad ban

Sky is within its rights to not show adverts for rival sports broadcaster BT Sport on its Sky Sports channels, Ofcom has ruled. 

The regulator says that while Sky has discriminated against BT by doing this, Sky’s decision has been described as an acceptable business practice, to do so adding that BT has plenty of other opportunities to pitch its channels at potential punters. 

Ofcom approves Sky’s BT Sport ad ban
Green Light: Head of BT Sport Simon Green at the launch event for BT Sport

Read Recombu Digital’s guides on How to get Sky Sports and BT SportGraham McWilliam, Sky’s group director of corporate affairs described BT’s demands as akin to expecting Tesco to advertise inside Sainsbury’s, telling Broadcast [paywall]:

“Our position here is just as reasonable as in advertising. BT has itself been clear that it wants to be the exclusive seller of its own sports channels in order to shore up its broadband business. We simply want a level playing field whereby each company supplies its sports channels to the other so we can both offer our customers all Premier League football next season.”

BT is currently selling its three BT Sport channels direct to Sky customer for £12/month or £15/month for access to HD counterparts to BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN. Alternatively, Sky TV customers can get the BT channels free if they take up a BT Broadband connection instead of a Sky Broadband one.

In a separate but related debate, BT has asked Ofcom to force Sky to allow Sky Sports to be sold alongside BT Sport channels on BT YouView. Currently you’ll only be able to get Sky Sports 1 and 2 and the BT Sports channels with a BT Vision+ box.

A BT spokesperson said of today’s announcement:

“With regulation, you win some and you lose some. Whilst this decision has gone against us, we are delighted that Ofcom is going to investigate Sky over their refusal to supply us with Sky Sports on YouView. That is a far bigger issue for us than their refusal to show our ads so this has been a good week for BT in terms of regulation.”

A possible outcome would be that BT could show both Sky Sports 1 and 2 and the BT Sport channels on BT YouView, but it would have to allow Sky to sell the BT Sport channels directly to its customers.

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