back to article Watchdogs probe Sky dominance on pay-TV

Ofcom has launched an investigation today into whether consumers are being harmed by Sky's movie and sport rights-buying supremacy. There are "warning signs" that people's choice is being limited by the way the market operates, the communications watchdog said, though it has "not yet reached a view on the existence of …


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  1. Matthew Johns
    Black Helicopters

    divorced from the reality of the current conditions of competition

    I.e. We paid good money for this monopoly and its ours I tell you, ours!

  2. Mo

    Not 100% sure what the fuss is about

    Last I looked, the only thing people signed up to Sky for was the sport - they don't actually have much in the way of compelling offerings beyond that. Although I dislike the Murdoch empire intensely, I'm not sure removing the only thing keeping Sky afloat (exclusivity) is a sane option.

    Mind you, there are plenty of people who *can't* get Sky, so it's anybody's guess what they're supposed to.

    Somewhere there's a happy medium, but I'm not entirely sure where it is.

  3. Alex Fawcett

    Setanta Mess

    My worry with this is that we will get a similar ruling that saw Sky being prevented from buying up all Premiership rights. Setanta bought a sixth of the rights and charged £10 a month for what had previously cost £60 a season with Prem Plus. How this represents a better deal for the consumer is beyond me. Forced fragmentation of Sky's service will only end in people paying more for what they already have.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    80% = monopoly

    Does it not? If so then Sky should (like BT has to) be forced to provide wholesale services.

    I can't see Maggie Broon letting it happen though - headlines of "It woz Ofcom wot lost it!" probably haunt his dreams right now .

  5. ssu

    Consumer choice? What about those happy with Sky?

    Personally I'm already fed up with having to now pay Sky and Setanta because of improved 'consumer choice'.

    Only people who seem to be complaining about the Sky monopoly are the TV companies - not the football fans.

    Ofcom, as usual, have no interest in the consumer and how much their meddling costs the consumer.

  6. Rich Silver badge

    Errrr.... yep!?

    I'm not a sports fan at all, but I can imagine if I was, I'd be really pissed off! Basically, if you want to watch any sport (esp. the premium stuff like football and cricket), you have to shell out boat loads of cash to Sky!

    There was an item on the radio a week or two back about the FA gunning for pubs that are ditching Sky and pointing their satellite dishes at freebie Greek TV stations where they can receive UK football matches! Apart from the stupidity of being able to see a UK game from a Greek station that you can't actually receive at home, the point was that the FA was saying this was illegal. I've thought for a long time that the FA is far more interested in making money (via Sky) than actually promoting the game of football. One pub landlord phoned in to say he had two pubs - Sky wanted £10,000 pa for the rights to show Sky in one pub and £13,000 pa for the other pub. The landlord said he didn't sign up for the second pub because he only has about half a dozen customers who actually might be interested in watching it. It's a stupid situation and where the only winners are Sky and the FA - the actual clubs (well, the ones further down the league) get sod-all out of this, and it can't be considered "good" for Jo public.

  7. Mage Silver badge

    Of course they are an Abusive Monopoly that has never been regulated by Ofcom

    I subscribe to Sky basic pack and not sport.

    I know others that want the sport and not the basic.

    There should be more Ala Carte channel picking, not "bundled packages"

    For those more than 5km from exchange or outside cable TV there is no choice of Satellite Pay provider unless you speak German etc.

  8. Mark

    Simple possible answers

    a) Allow all the premium sports but 10 minutes later.

    b) Or, alternatively, no exclusives can be given in final matches on any sport (so each division's winner is seen live by anyone who wants to get it, the womens' finals in wimbledon can always be seen live) and so on.

    c) Or, as a last alternative, BBC Sport, a free/freeview channel is given full rights to show any match wanted (there are far more sports so some of them cannot be live, but will at least be available) for any match where there is an exclusive contract for viewing.

    (a) means that you lose something but 10 minutes is enough to make it attractive to see the live version but you won't miss out much (such as hearing the results on the news) if you go elsewhere.

    (b) means that the definitive matches cannot be held to ransom, though most matches can be exclusive

    (c) means that there's no commercial incentive to pay for exclusivity.

  9. Dave Webb

    Competition IS good! Just not how it is now...

    To say competition isn't helping the consumer is correct... as the competition is now. That's because right now, there is no competition. The process is flawed. With each match only available on one platform exclusively, how is that competition? It is BOUND to drive up prices amongst the broadcasters, as they have no incentive to lower prices to the end user... Show each match on competing broadcasters, and leave it to them to decide a price to the end user... THAT'S competition.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Separate distribution and content

    Many people can't watch satellite TV, because they're not allowed to put a dish on their house or similar reasons (in some cities it seems almost any dish is against planning regulations, and many councils, housing associations, etc, ban them on their properties). While others can't get cable because there are no cables to their houses. Surely it would be fairer to separate the distribution platform from the channels so people could watch the channels they want by whatever means are available.

  11. Ned Fowden

    setanta complained ??

    this must have been before they got the rights to show premier league matches.

    to be honest, i agree that there should be more choice, although i'm very happy with the choices i have because they fulfill everything my family needs, the kids, the wife and me !

    and yes, there are a myriad of other ways to see these matches for free (my personal favourite being net streaming) but you can't beat watching it on Sky Sports

  12. David Wykes

    An expensive monopoly

    If evidence was needed then just look at the Virgin spat, Virgin customers can subscribe to Sky Sports but not get Sky One anymore.

    So why do Sky do? Start putting champions league games on Sky One so non-Sky Sky Sports subscribers can't see the games but Sky non-Sky Sports subscribers get them for "free"

    There's not real competition because Sky just bid as much as they can to ensure they win then rights and then pass that cost onto their subscribers, normal competition would result in prices decreasing in real terms.

    I'm sure Sky will argue that you get more channels and choice for your money but i really don't care whether i have 20 or 700 channels in my package, i only have 24hrs in a day so all i want is the channels showing what i am interested in.

    As mage says, more A la Carte rather than an all you can eat buffet....

    ssu also has a valid statrment in that forcing matches to be split between Sky & Setanta has resulted in more expense for viewers who choose to watch all games and therefore end up with 2 subscriptions.

  13. Nardak

    Pay and pay again!

    Everything provided by Sky with the sole exception of the premium movies is ad-supported - you pay TWICE - once to watch the program, and once again by watching the ads.

    When I left Sky years ago with that reson, the peons in their call centre didn't understand this and simply went silent... Charge me for the content, but not the ads as well...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vermin Media Whinging About Sky As Always

    How dare a company take a risk, spend a load of money but to be successful.

    Clearly they should have just gone into bankruptcy protection then come out of it with a load of debt and gone sulking to regulators that the big bad company that did actually know arse from elbow has outdone them instead.

    Virgin Media set up their own turgid shite channels, got on board with Setanta, etc, etc, but still see fit to sulk to regulators along with various other TV companies, none of whom want to make the investments.

    Ofcom will, of course, most likely punish Sky, they don't care at all for the consumer just that 'competition' is preserved. A quick look at the broadband market in the UK tells volumes, BT not wanting to do fibre due to not having a decent regulatory framework with the threat of being forced to let all and sundry use it for not much and no-one else having the cash or will to, due to in the case of Virgin poor management.

  15. Mister Cheese

    Who wants to watch Premiership 'football' anyway?

    Proper football's in the Football League. Standing out on the terraces, all weathers, watching a proper team getting muddy and working for normal money, not prancing around a manicured lawn in a covered stadium and getting paid £100k a week, and rolling around in agony if someone else breathes on them. The sooner Sky-watchers (excluding Patrick Moore of course) understand this concept, the better - and the little clubs might get a fairer slice of the money-spinning pie, whatever one of those tastes like.

  16. James Dunmore
    Thumb Up

    @Alex Fawcett

    Spot on - where as before I could get everything through one medium, now I have to subscribe to others.

    Although I would like to see the Sky separated into separate arms - i.e. broadcasting and content (one sends the stuff, from any one, the other makes it and offers it to others) - therefore less conflict of interest.

    Really though, I can see in a few years time nobody buying tv channels at all - they just pay for what they watch, when they watch it - for example, with football, I pay x amount a month for sky sports, and there are loads of football matches I don't have time to watch (and loads of other content on those channels) - I'd rather just pay for the 3 or 4 games a week I watch - much fairer system I think - but then the BBC tax, sorry fee, would never allow that.

  17. Pete Miller

    Really? what progress!

    It's possible that Sky will be forced to offer its sports channels on a price-controlled wholesale basis to other broadcasters.

    try googling sky rate card

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    allegedly allegedly allegedly

    in 2003 when there were two competing TV satellite systems in Italy, Stream (owned by guess who) and Telepiu (owned by Vivendi Universal) were rivals, strangely, there appeared Pirate smart card designs AND regular crack-code updates for 12 year market leader Telepiu, from some generous anonymous lab somewhere. cough.

    insert bit from the FT

    NDS, the News Corp affiliate that has become the world leader in "conditional access technology". Among them were former Israeli intelligence officers, CIA operatives, computer scientists, even commandos - all experts in the art of encryption and code-breaking.... *WTF* COMMANDOS???? anonymous coward status quick!

    more from the FT

    ...allegation - first raised by Canal Plus Technologies of France - was that NDS employed hackers who broke their codes and posted them on the internet.

    NDS..... rejects the allegations.

    er.......soon however News Corps' Stream and TelePiu merged to form SKYItalia

    why can't I have three black helicopter Icons??

  19. Nano nano

    Hot air from Murdoch

    Not only that, but a Sky+ box uses 22W on standby !

    Compare that with a Hummy PVR on less than 5W.

  20. Tom Kelsall
    Thumb Down


    Why is it that, when every living individual in the country knows that you can't watch certain sports without paying Murdoch, that you can only watch certain events by paying Murdoch again, and that for some things you have to pay Murdoch THREE TIMES, that SOME of those SAME individuals who work for so-called Watchdogs say totally dumb things like "there are indications that choice may be limited"??!!!

    Absolutely idiotic understatement of issues is a classically British Civil Servant pastime, but it REALLY ticks me off.

  21. Angus Cooke

    Smaller bundles

    I work for Sky and get it all free so none of this is really an issue for me and obviously I'm ever-so-slilghtly bias!

    Howver, I do agree with the comments for Sky offering more choice in the bundled offering though and certainly think forcing broadcast companies to share the various package offerings like the premiership football will just cost everyone a lot more in the long run.

  22. Edward Miles

    @Mister Cheese

    Alas the terraces are all but gone, even from the football league. Greatest tragedy in football that.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How can you have competition?

    When one provider gets rights to certain matches and another provider gets right to another set of matches, how can you have competition for the benefit of customers when you can't get the exact same matches from different places?

    Force all matches onto pay per view and allow any UK network to show them. Part of the revenue to the television station and the majority of it to the league. Naturally the network with the largest share of users will get the majority of the revenue, but they could all offer something different to try and get more viewers. VM/Sky could show HD versions of the matches for the same price, whilst Setanta would have the benefit of anyone being able to get it without satellite.

    Something like this might promote more competition in the pay-TV market. VM/Sky wouldn't be able to get away with high monthly charges for their base packages if they want to be competitive for customers on their platforms.

  24. Eitsop
    Thumb Down

    Pay, Pay, Pay?

    I left Sky a while ago, opting for Freeview (the people at Sky didn't understand that Freeview is cheaper than Sky for some reason). As I remember it with sky you have to pay for: 1 the subscription to sky (at least basic), 2. the premiership subscription. And, as previously mentioned there's the adverts.

    My personal favourite suggestion is watching it delayed - I am sure that people wouldn't mind watching it later on another channel.

    Whilst i'm ranting - when did all this money-is-more-important-than-football start anyway?

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Rather Sky than the Beeb

    Of course, for some of us Sky is the only way to actually GET any signal at all. The wonderful wonderful English Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and its crony, UK Government plc, refuse to provide all its subscribers (license fee payers) with the same service for the same money.

    So, if the BBC and others should have "equal rights" to broadcast sports, Sky won't bother to bid for it any more, meaning I will lose access to something I can now at least pay for to get.

  26. A J Stiles

    There's a simple solution

    There's a simple solution: Ban exclusivity deals outright. That is to say: Just because one broadcaster has paid for the rights to show a particular sporting event, should not prevent anyone else from showing coverage of the same event.

    When I can choose, unhindered by natural (e.g. availability of service) or artificial (e.g. exclusive licencing arrangements) limitations, between different broadcasters' coverage of the same event, *that* is free market competition.

    Anything else is just a cartel.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    @ Alex Fawcett

    One thing your forgetting mate is you get a lot more with setanta than you did with the prem plus only deal, more channels and more content so it does actually work out cheaper than it used to!!

    I think its about time ofcom do something, they are known as being soft as crap and being toothless and 'not bothered' and us consumers are the ones who suffer because of it. I mean look at the whole Virgin vs SKY spat, SKY think they can charge what they want and abuse their position, Virgin standing up and saying well were not paying that feck ya channels...

    ... As SKY is a dominant pay tv provider their channels should be governed by the rate card the same as the Sky Sports & Movies, that way if companies want their channels they all pay a fair price, that way SKY cant abuse their position!

    What OFCOM also need to do is sort out this stinking mess of ALL the companies being able to advertise UNLIMITED BROADBAND when its not unlimited at all, the have caps, fair usage policies, throttling etc - It should be advertised CLEARLY and not in the small print and this should be a legal requirement as customes are just BAFFLED by all the sneaky advertising.

    Same as UNLIMITED phone calls to landlines, oh but they are not UNLIMITED its only free for UP TO AN HOUR, so therefore it should be called TALK 1HR, not TALK UNLIMITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the fact that SKy own all the rights to various sports is becouse of the way sports bodies choose to sell their rights.

    Is it skys fault they have lots of money so can afford to pay more then anyone else at auction? Stop complaining about Sky they have money, they buy services so they can make more money. We live in a capitalist society.

    More money from sky means more money for football/cricket/etc teams. So like hell those guys are gonna go "you know lets have a fairer more even distrobution where we make less money!"

    Sandel wearing retards.

  29. Dan


    So is it illegal to use the Greek footage or are the FA merely playing bully? My friends own a pub and have had the greek stuff installed - half the price of sky. They said they checked it out and it wasn't illegal, they would be very interested to hear if this is incorrect.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NDS encryption

    "soon however News Corps' Stream and TelePiu merged to form SKYItalia"

    Although at least in Italy Sky were effectively forced to release an NDS CAM so that subscribers could continue to use their own existing hardware (of whatever brand) and not be required to use Sky digiboxes.

    Better yet, that means they get to use any PVR box they want without being tied to a Sky subscription like we are.

    Unfortunately AFAIK the SkyItalia version of NDS isn't *quite* the same as the UK version.

  31. Scott Mckenzie
    Thumb Down


    Sky can keep the football and charge what the hell they like for it, i don't care as i'd sooner watch re-runs of Emmerdale, Eastenders and Corrie all day long than watch a bunch of overpaid nonces dive around a pitch once a week for a hundred grand... but please can someone else have access to the Rugby so i can watch more than a couple of games of a decent sport.

    I'd happily (well, not really) pay for Sky if they would come round and fit the ability for me to get Sky+ or preferably HD, but even though i live in an apartment block and have a written agreement from 90% of the people living in it (ok that's only 18 people, but still) that they would sign up if Sky upgraded the LNB and cabled the necessary wires to the apartments they won't do it... i flatly refuse to pay £40 a month or whatever it is to lose the most convenient feature i currently have on my PVR, the ability to record things and watch them when i want.

  32. Tawakalna

    @Mister Cheese

    "Proper football's in the Football League. Standing out on the terraces, all weathers, watching a proper team getting muddy and working for normal money, not prancing around a manicured lawn in a covered stadium and getting paid £100k a week, and rolling around in agony if someone else breathes on them. The sooner Sky-watchers (excluding Patrick Moore of course) understand this concept, the better - and the little clubs might get a fairer slice of the money-spinning pie, whatever one of those tastes like."

    bravo, Sir! a man after my own heart! (sure you aren't me?)

    Premiership rubbish. Real football is your local team for local people.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bring back Screensport

    I am still miffed that Screensport went. Great choice of live action sports on there. There is also a great choice of Sports on Eurosport, HOWEVER, we do NOT get Eurosport, we get some bastardised channel called Eurosport which is actually a specially created bland UK channel with most sports removed.

  34. andy

    You can keep Prem, but England matches should be for all

    I think the title says it all

    I could not give a fig for the Prem football league, but games involving the national team should be available to all.

    Still can't believe more people don't complain about this.

  35. Heinz


    How on earth are the F.A. going to be able to continue paying foreigners stupid amounts of money to 'manage' the English soccer (non)team losing matches without the billions Sky pays 'em?

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