BT Calls for Ofcom to Investigate Sky's Dominance

By James O Malley on at

The war between Sky and BT appears to be getting increasingly bitter, as BT has called for the telecoms regulator Ofcom to step in and examine Sky's dominance of pay TV.

CEO John Petter wants Ofcom to include pay TV in its Digital Communications Review because of Sky's "high prices" and "poor outcomes for consumers arising from a lack of competition in pay TV".

This is the latest salvo in the scrap between the two providers, which are both now directly competing with each other over "quad play" services - as both companies offer TV, broadband, landline and mobile services.

As Engadget notes, amusingly BT suggesting the regulator step in here appears to be in response to Sky urging Ofcom to step in on the turf where BT is dominant, in broadband: Sky argues that BT should be completely separated from the OpenReach network which it and other providers (including Sky) provides its broadband services on.

In a speech to the Broadcasting Press Guild Petter argued that evidence of Sky's anti-competitive dominance is shown in the pay TV switching rate - which is 50% lower than the rate at which people will switch broadband provider. He suggested that unlike the energy market, where there are a "big six" firms, in Pay TV there is really only a "big one", as Sky controls 64% of the pay TV space. Apparently the fact that 2.4m people subscribe to BT Sport who don't have Sky, which shows that there is a demand for sport content from people who can't afford Sky's high prices.

In some corporate smack-talk, Petter said in the speech:

“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”.

It'll be interesting to see how Sky responds. [BT via Engadget]