BT slams Sky over pay TV competition ‘smokescreen’

BT slams Sky over pay TV competition ‘smokescreen’

Tensions between media giants Sky and BT continue to escalate after the telecoms firm challenged Sky’s dominance in the pay TV market.

BT called on Ofcom to broaden its Digital Communications Review to include pay TV, expressing concern for the lack of competition in that market. The comments follow Sky’s request for the regulator to launch a full investigation into BT’s Openreach division.

The telecoms giant claims that its rivals comments are ‘a smokescreen’, intended to ‘obscure the real market failings in pay TV, where Sky is the dominant player’. BT explained that Sky TV customers pay £50 a year more than the EU average for pay TV channels, claiming that its 64% market share ‘leaves major barriers to entry for new players’.

BT Consumer CEO, John Petter called on Ofcom to implement the same competition measures to the pay TV market that it has delivered to the telecoms market. He said: ‘Whereas in the energy market regulators have criticised the Big Six operators, in pay TV Sky has a 64% share, so there is really only the Big One.

‘Relative to EU averages Sky customers are paying around a half a billion pounds more per year for the basic packages of pay TV channels. Switching in pay TV is 50 per cent lower than the levels seen in broadband, so it is clear we just aren’t seeing the right levels of competition for Sky.

‘We think Ofcom should heed the call of Sky’s biggest shareholder. James Murdoch once said in relation to Sky that 21st Century Fox fought for ‘a level playing field and to have competition policy applied with an even hand’. But when it comes to competition in pay TV, the message from Sky seems to be ‘talk to the hand’. We think Ofcom should make Mr Murdoch happy and give the UK a competitive pay TV market that is fit for the next decade.’

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