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Ofcom ends Sky Sports Wholesale Must Offer regulation after 5 years

Ofcom has today announced its decision to remove regulation requiring Sky to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 on a wholesale basis.

The ‘wholesale must-offer’ regulation was introduced five years ago after there had been disputes between Sky and other pay TV operators over carriage of the channels and concerns about Sky's dominant market position.

Ofcom's intervention in the market ultimately made it possible for now defunct pay TV provider Top Up TV and BT to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 via digital terrestrial television between 2010 and 2013, and for BT to offer the two channels later on via its internet-delivered TV service.

Following consultation and evidence from stakeholders, Ofcom says it has found that Sky is now supplying sports widely on commercial terms outside of the regulation. But Ofcom has promised it will continue to monitor closely market developments and, if necessary, will quickly step back in.

The only supply arrangement for Sky Sports 1 and 2 under Ofcom's wholesale must-offer regulation is with BT for its YouView service, and Ofcom has said it will be monitoring the situation carefully, and will reintroduce regulation if needed, warning operators that "should evidence emerge of practices which we consider to be prejudicial to fair and effective competition, we will quickly reassess the need for regulation. In particular, Ofcom wants to be sure that consumers continue to have access to, and a choice of, packages and services containing Sky Sports 1 and 2."

There has been an ongoing deadlock between BT and Sky over channel carriage, following BT's entry in to the sports market. In October, Sky Sports 1 and 2 in HD finally became available on BT YouView after a long wait for BT YouView users, at the same time AMC from BT in HD became available on satellite, as part of the BT Sport pack. Virgin Media and TalkTalk have normal commercial carriage agreements with Sky.

Update 09:00
In response to Ofcom's announcement, a Sky spokesperson 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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