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Ofcom closes investigation into Sky’s position in sports market

UK media regulator Ofcom has closed an investigation into pay-television broadcaster Sky regarding the alleged abuse of a dominant market position concerning the wholesale supply of its Sky Sports 1 and 2 channels.

The decision ends a process that opened when Ofcom received a complaint in May 2013 from telecommunications company BT, which operates rival pay-television broadcaster BT Sport, alleging that the terms on which Sky offered wholesale supply of Sky Sports 1 and 2 to BT’s YouView platform amounted to an abuse of dominance.

The RapidTVNews website said Ofcom ruled that the “principal risk” to the interests of the consumers identified in the original complaint has been brought to an end. The regulator noted that BT has now obtained access to the channels on a non-reciprocal basis for its YouView platform, the remedy sought in the complaint.

In November, Ofcom removed the regulation requiring Sky to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 on a wholesale basis, stating the decision had been made as the company is now widely supplying these channels to rivals on commercial terms.

The ‘wholesale must-offer’ regulation was introduced in 2010 to promote choice and innovation for consumers through greater competition in the pay-television sector. Ofcom began a review in 2014 to determine whether regulation remained appropriate.

Sky makes Sky Sports available through commercial wholesale arrangements with its pay-television competitors, including telco BT, for its BT Vision service, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. Sky Sports channels are also available on Sky's internet-based Now TV service.

Ofcom highlighted that the only supply arrangement for Sky Sports 1 and 2 under the wholesale must-offer regulation was with BT for its YouView service.