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Ofcom scraps Sky's sports channel obligation to BT

Sky will no longer be obliged to make its sports channels available to BT TV customers at a controlled and fixed price.

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The rival broadband and TV bundlers must now reach a commercial agreement.

Jostling between Sky (LON:SKY) and BT (LON:BT.A) over top spot in Britain’s sports broadcasting table continued in the wake of a new ruling by Ofcom today.

The watchdog has unshackled Sky from its prior obligation to make its sports channels available to BT TV customers at a controlled and fixed price.

The rival broadband and TV bundlers must now reach a commercial agreement.

Ofcom introduced the so-called ‘must offer’ rule, which forced Sky to sell Sky Sports 1 and 2 on a wholesale basis, in 2010 to promote competition among broadcasters and increase choice for PayTV viewers.

Its new ruling comes partially because it believes that following the acquisition of key broadcasting rights - such as the English Premier League and UEFA Champions League – by BT there is more competition in the market and that viewers have more choice.

The regulator highlighted that Sky Sports was being sold to customers through more avenues including rivals such as TalkTalk and Virgin Media on commercial terms, and it was also now available via Sky’s internet-based NOW TV.

BT, which has so far spent over £2bn on its BT Sports channels, has said it will consider legal options following the Ofcom ruling.

Meanwhile, in a statement Sky said:  “We are pleased that Ofcom has decided to remove the WMO condition.

“As the evidence demonstrates, we are, and have always been, more than happy to make our channels available on other platforms.”

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