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Battle between BT and Sky over sports heats up as Ofcom gets involved

  • BT says Sky won't allow them to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 via its YouView service unless it gives Sky access to BT Sport.

The latest battle between BT and Sky heated up yesterday, with Ofcom launching an investigation over allegations that Sky is misusing its market position to impose anti-competitive terms on BT with regards premium sports channels.

The investigation follows a complaint by BT to Ofcom. BT will enter the sports TV market for the first time this summer, offering viewers Premiership and international league football, alongside Rugby, Women's Tennis and from next year, Moto GP. BT will be launching a three-channel package of premium sport from 1st August 2013.

BT is currently only able to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 via digital terrestrial television and its existing BT Vision service, with the digital terrestrial television poised to end within the next few weeks. According to the telecoms giant, it is not able to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 to its YouView customers, because Sky is imposing terms that would force BT to offer BT Sport to Sky as part of any deal.

Currently, BT Sport is sidestepping Sky by retailing its forthcoming channels directly to Sky customers on the Sky digital satellite system.

According to BBC News, Sky said it considered BT's complaint to Ofcom to "be entirely without merit", while BT said "We are pleased Ofcom has decided to open an investigation as we believe Sky has behaved in an unreasonable and discriminatory manner."

BT has asked Ofcom for a decision before the first Premiership matches kick off on 17th August.

As it stands, BT's YouView customers will be able to access either standard or high definition versions of BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN, but not Sky Sports. Viewers on the older "BT Vision" platform will continue to access Sky Sports 1 and 2 if they have access to BT Infinity fibre broadband plus BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN, or just BT Sport 1 and 2 via an aerial if they are out of the reach of BT Infinity.

In contrast, TalkTalk's YouView customers will have access to all Sky Sports channels, excluding F1 but not BT Sport - subject to further negotiations between operators. Unlike BT, TalkTalk were able to enter into a relatively simple carriage agreement with Sky for its version of the YouView service.

This summer has so far been very frustrating for sports fans, with no deals over BT Sport reached with any other digital TV provider and terrestrial pay TV operator Top Up TV referring its subscribers to Sky to continue watching premium sport from August following BT's termination of the Sky Sports service on digital terrestrial television, which it hosted on the platform since 2010.

As it stands: where are premium sports channels available?
Find out where you can watch which sports channels from 1st August, based on current information >

This is an updated version of an article first published 19/06/2013.


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