Ofcom welcomes decision on pay TV ‘wholesale must offer’

05 November 2014

Ofcom has today welcomed a court ruling that paves the way for more top sports events to be made available for the first time to viewers of BT’s YouView TV service.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has published an interim ruling that Sky Sports 1 and 2 should be made available on BT’s YouView service, which uses broadband to deliver TV channels to viewers.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said:

“After more than four years of litigation and legal challenges, Ofcom’s 2010 pay TV decision continues to serve the interests of UK consumers and this ruling is consistent with our original decision.

“Today’s ruling paves the way for more top sports to be available on another TV service and supports competition and innovation in the communications sector as we originally intended.

“Ofcom is now focused on reviewing the ‘wholesale must offer’ remedy in light of developments in pay TV.”

In March 2010, Ofcom ruled that BSkyB should offer its Sky Sports 1 and 2 channels to other pay TV providers on a wholesale basis to promote competition and innovation to benefit consumers.

The Tribunal today recognises that this decision was imposed to ensure fair and effective competition in the public interest.

Ofcom is also pleased that in its judgment, the Tribunal recognises that it is for Ofcom to consider the impact of changed market conditions in its new review of the wholesale must offer remedy, which requires BSkyB to offer the sports channels to other pay TV providers.

Ofcom will publish a consultation on the wholesale must offer in the coming months, which will review the wholesale must offer in light of how the pay TV market has developed since Ofcom’s original decision in March 2010.

Ofcom’s original decision was challenged at the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which said that the wholesale must offer should not stand.

However, in February 2014, the Court of Appeal judgment found that the Tribunal failed properly to consider Ofcom's findings that there was ineffective competition in the market. It concluded that errors of law in the Tribunal decision meant that its judgment could not be upheld and remitted to the Tribunal to reconsider its decision.

Today’s Tribunal ruling follows last week’s Supreme Court decision, which rejected BSkyB’s request to challenge Ofcom’s powers to the impose the wholesale must offer on BSkyB.

Ofcom will take account of today’s decision in its current Competition Act investigation over supply of Sky Sports 1 and 2 to BT’s YouView service. BT last year complained about the terms under which BSkyB was offering these channels to BT.