Netflix Says U.K. Competition Regulators Should Leave Rival BSkyB Alone (Report)

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LONDON – Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings surprised the British media by telling the MediaGuardian Changing Media Summit he doesn’t think rival BSkyB should have its movie channels regulated by the U.K. competition authorities.

Hastings brought Netflix to British and Irish shores in January this year with the promise of shaking up the TV and film subscription marketplace.

But Hastings told The Guardian newspaper and media summit attendees he would want a “fair fight” with Sky over content rights and that immediate regulatory intervention was not necessary.

"Sky is a fearsome competitor, they have all six major [Hollywood studio] output deals," he is reported by The Guardian as telling the MediaGuardian Changing Media Summit Thursday.

"Right now there probably isn't a pressing need for government intervention but if we don't have one [of Sky's big studio deals] in a year or so …," Hastings said.

British media regulator Ofcom recently broadened its ongoing investigation into satcaster BSkyB’s market position to take into account the arrival of Netflix and the increasing muscularity of Amazon-owned movie and film streaming and rental player LoveFilm.

The move followed the Competition Commission’s provisional ruling last summer that Sky’s deals with the big six Hollywood studios for U.K. rights to movies for the first pay-TV and VOD windows was anti-competitive and its grip should be loosened.

And the uber regulator also said earlier this month that it was to dedicate a hand-picked team of people to help assess whether or not James Murdoch is a "fit and proper" person to sit on the board of satcaster BSkyB.

But Hastings went on to say that intervention by the Briitsh authorities might make sense should Netflix fail to persuade the Hollywood studios to strike deals with his outfit over the next 24 months.

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