U.K. Regulator Dismisses BT Ad Complaint About BSkyB

6:12 AM PST 06/20/2013 by Georg Szalai
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The telecom giant had argued the British pay TV company, in which Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns 39 percent, blocked spots from running on Sky Sports.

U.K. media regulator Ofcom on Thursday dismissed a complaint by telecom giant BT that BSkyB engaged in "undue discrimination" when it refused to air ads for BT's upcoming sports networks on its own Sky Sports channels.

BT argued in April that the British pay TV company, in which Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns 39 percent, blocked its spots from Sky Sports in an abuse of its market power. BT in August will launch two new sports channels in addition to Britain's ESPN, which it recently acquired from Walt Disney.

Ofcom said BSkyB discriminated against BT's ads, but not in an undue way.

STORY: BSkyB Refuses to Air Ads for Rival BT's U.K. Sports Coverage

"Our view in relation to the discrimination between Sky and BT is that Sky is pursuing a legitimate commercial interest," Ofcom said in its decision. "We also consider, given the limited extent of the effects on BT, that Sky's approach is proportionate to its aim. We therefore consider that Sky has not unduly discriminated against BT."

On Wednesday, Ofcom said that it has opened a review of a separate competition complaint from BT against BSkyB.
In that complaint last month, BT argued that BSkyB has abused its market power in carriage negotiations for its Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 channels with BT.

BT and BSkyB have increasingly competed for sports rights.

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