U.K. Telecom Giant BT Wins Court Appeal Against BSkyB Pricing

 

LONDON – U.K. telecom giant BT's pay-TV battle with BSkyB, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, will continue after a court ruling Monday, Feb. 17.

BT won a ruling in the Court of Appeal that could see BSkyB forced to cut the wholesale price at which it offers Sky Sports to rivals by 23 percent.

Sky, listed on the stock exchange, issued a statement noting the ruling and pledged to continue to fight on.

Sky said the court ruling does not alter in any way the Competition Appeal Tribunal's fundamental findings, which overturned a ruling by U.K. media watchdog Ofcom that the satellite operator "engaged constructively with other distributors over the supply of its premium sports channels."

CAT also found that Virgin Media is able to compete effectively with Sky on the basis of Sky's rate card prices.

According to the satellite pay-TV giant's statement: "Sky continues to believe that Ofcom's 2010 decision is flawed and that the WMO obligation ought properly to be removed, and will continue to pursue all available options to achieve this aim."

While the rivals fight out pricing issues in the British courts, the fight for sports' content set the pay-TV landscape alight.

In November last year, BT won the TV rights to European soccer tournament Champions League for three years, outbidding current rights holders BSkyB and ITV.

British media reports put the price tag at $1.44 billion (£900 million).

BT won the right to air all 350 games in the Champions League and the UEFA Europa League starting in 2015/2016, marking the first time that a single U.K. TV provider has won all of these rights.

BT's BT Sport networks have aggressively competed with BSkyB, winning in the past rights to English Premier League soccer games, matches from Germany’s Bundesliga, as well as France’s Ligue1 and Italy’s Serie A.

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