[author: Andrew Preston]
BT has made a complaint to Ofcom alleging that the terms on which BSkyB offers its Sky Sports channels to the YouView platform constitute abuse of a dominant position, contrary to Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. BT indicated that BSkyB has refused to supply Sky Sports 1 & 2 to the YouView platform unless BT supplies its BT Sport channels wholesale to BSkyB.
Ofcom has opened an investigation under section 25 of the Competition Act 1998, to consider whether BSkyB is in breach of UK or EU competition law. A decision on interim measures requested by BT is expected in July.
The complaint was made in the same week that Ofcom ruled on an earlier complaint made by BT in April that BSkyB unduly discriminated against it by refusing to air advertising for BT’s new television sports channels on Sky Sports channels, holding that BSkyB’s refusal was justified.
BSkyB refused to advertise BT Sport on Sky Sports, given the level of their investment in those channels. BT complained that this was in breach of the Code on the Prevention of Undue Discrimination between Broadcast Advertisers. Ofcom investigated the complaint and delivered its ruling last week, dismissing the complaint stating that by refusing to promote a rival’s sports coverage on its sports channels BSkyB was ‘pursuing a legitimate commercial interest’.
BT will be hoping for a decision on their more recent complaint in advance of the start of the next Premier League season in August. A positive result for BT would allow them to offer the full range of live matches on their YouView platform, while denying BSkyB the ability to offer its satellite subscribers coverage of BT’s 38 live matches.