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Ofcom v Sky: The epic business battle of 2010

Robert Peston | 11:34 UK time, Friday, 26 March 2010

Banking, groceries and pay TV: do they cover the main ingredients for a thriving economy and the good society?

I only ask because the longest and most expensive competition investigations have been into those business sectors.

The latest is the three-year pay-TV probe, which reaches an end - of sorts - next week, when the media watchdog, Ofcom, publishes its final conclusions and proposed remedies.

There have been thousands of pages of submissions to Ofcom in this enquiry, a fair number of them from the company directly threatened, British Sky Broadcasting (which was still lobbying Ofcom, with some 100 pages of detailed economic analysis, some five months after the consultation was formally closed).

And while we'll have to wait for the detail, there is no doubt (based on what Ofcom has already published) that Ofcom's recommendations will send British Sky Broadcasting into paroxysms of fury.

Ofcom believes that BSkyB has "market power" in the supply of channels containing live sport and first-run Hollywood movies to competitors such as Virgin and BT.

satellite dishThe regulator has already concluded - in its preliminary verdict published last summer - that the way BSkyB exploits this market power restricts the choice of "channels and platforms" available to consumers and may be a deterrent to the development of "new platforms".

Or to put this in English, it believes that BSkyB has an unfair hold on the supply of movies and sport, that this gives it an unfair advantage in the battle to flog not just TV but broadband and telecoms too, and that rivals therefore must be allowed to re-sell BSkyB's sport and movies at a "reasonable" price (whatever that may be).

So BSkyB will be forced to sell rival broadcasters access to its films and sport - in normal and high definition format - at keener prices than it does today.

BSkyB will scream blue murder. It will claim that the ruling is a ludicrous punishment for its putative crime of investing in the distribution of sport and movies over 20 years. And it will warn that entrepreneurs will be discouraged from taking big risks if when the dividends are being reaped they are told that they can't maximise those dividends.

It's an argument deployed by all network companies - from Microsoft through to Google - that start off small and entrepreneurial and become vast and influential, when their market power is challenged by regulators.

In response, Ofcom will claim that BSkyB would be able to make decent profits from the regulated wholesale deals with rivals. They'll be priced on a "retail minus" formula, for those who are interested in the minutiae, which broadly means there'll be a better profit margin for BSkyB than under the "cost plus" formulas which regulators normally impose when setting prices.

And Ofcom's remedies won't just apply to the movies and sport that Sky actually shows. It will also have a pop at BSkyB's ownership of the movie-on-demand rights for all the major Hollywood studios - because these are rights that it owns but does not use.

Ofcom wants to see a separation of the sale of these on-demand movie rights from the sale of standard movie subscription rights - to speed the development of proper, broadband-based on-demand movie services.

Also, Ofcom will weigh into the always-contentious arrangements for the auction of Premier League football rights.

So for BSkyB, Ofcom's tanks are not on the lawn, but are actually bulldozing through the studios.

Which is why it is better than a racing certainty that British Sky Broadcasting will appeal against the ruling.

Or to put it another way, there'll be at least another year till we know for sure whether and how the pay-TV market will change.

Even so, Ofcom's verdict is a milestone, and a politically explosive one at that.

Why the political resonance?

Well here are three facts - and you can decide whether they are related or not.

James Murdoch, the chairman of BSkyB and the presumed heir to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation throne, has argued with some passion that Ofcom intervenes excessively in the media market and could do with neutering.

David Cameron, the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, and a nose ahead in the race to be Britain's next prime minister, has announced an intention to scale back Ofcom and take it out of what he described as "making policy".

This is what Mr Cameron said last July: "with a Conservative Government, Ofcom as we know it will cease to exist. Its remit will be restricted to its narrow technical and enforcement roles. It will no longer play a role in making policy."

Also, News Corporation's most-widely-read newspaper, the Sun ("wot won it"), has switched allegiance from Labour to the Tories - and is currently heaping opprobrium on the government in its pages with what reads like undisguised relish.

All of which lends more than just a frisson - perhaps a better metaphor would be "earthquake" - to an investigation by Ofcom that represents the first attempt by any British regulator to argue that BSkyB as currently constituted has excessive market power and needs a bit of reining-back.


  • Comment number 1.

    Banking, groceries and pay TV: do they cover the main ingredients for a thriving economy and the good society?

    Well, if by good, you mean a society of over-fed, pigged-out, unhealthy, couch-potato, over-spenders who fail to think for themselves, what else is there?

    Wouldn't have any of Murdoch's muck in my house, not even in the loo! And as for supermarkets they're only any good for frozen peas or soap powder

  • Comment number 2.

    David Cameron, the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, and a nose ahead in the race to be Britain's next prime minister, has announced an intention to scale back Ofcom and take it out of what he described as "making policy".

    Oh no - we're getting the vitriolic Fox then! Please, no, no, no, no.... He'll deregulate and we'll never have Attenborough. Right, the telly will have to go if he gets in and dares let Murdoch have any more of this country!

  • Comment number 3.

    As an (ex) employee of a business that used to operate on the Sky platform I understand how Sky's monopoly position is abused (in a slightly different area to the one mentioned above) and stifled innovation around the interactive TV market (which the UK was the world leader). I have no problems with them being run as a business but at certain times there needs to be a some control over Sky as a platform and Sky as a broadcaster

  • Comment number 4.

    Those with controlling market share use political influence to restrict is what captialism has always been. The development of media applications to computers and cell phones is simply a response for those wishing to get into markets that have become restricted by regulation and governmental patronage. Like the fossil fuel industry, alternatives will be developed because they have been shut out of any real resources for development and political interference. The big corporations and their taxes bind them to governments like a calf to a mother cow.

  • Comment number 5.

    IOam a sky subcriber and have every sympathy with points raised by Ofcom
    one is left wonering whether nullifyingOfcom in traditional tory abdication of responsibility through deregulation will be added to conservatives splitting up the bbc in a the quid pro quoexisting between the Murdochs and David Cameron as a reward for tory bias in it's tv and printed media,lately they seemed to have suceeded inplacing at least a couple of moles in the beeb too!
    Murdoch is disliked nearly as much i australia ,among ordinary folk as he is here his unbridled power is developing intomedia world domination which is why he hates the bbc, so much quality never was his strong suit

  • Comment number 6.

    Are you saying that Cameron is actually in Murdoch's pocket? Or will it just feel like that? Are you implying that the Tories decision to scale back Ofcom is in some way linked to Murdoch's subsequent decision to support the Conservatives? If so, perhaps - given all the stuff thrown at Blair about his Ecclestone connection - perhaps this should be consideered by the BBC as a more important newsworthy issue? For myself, I'd like to see much tougher rules on media ownership which prevents foreign owners (& non-residents) not just involving themselves in UK politics, but covering such a significant share of the market. Though I may not agree with the BBC, at least I know you are trying to be balanced & unbiassed - but the Murdoch media have no such inhibitions & let us say "mislead" their viewers/readers without scruple.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hallelujah! About time someone saw the light on this. Sky can:

    1. Charge subscriptions and show adverts - no other channel does that.

    2. Bundle - when Microsoft did that they were hammered by the European courts. Bundling is forcing people to buy things together that should really be sold separately, in this case, tv channels.

    3. All of this while they make absolutley no tv programming of their own. BBC and ITV make high quality dramas all the time, Sky simply re-package existing tv content and then even sell that on through Virgin etc.

    Further it made me laugh when Channel 4 were fined for their adverts beiong louder than their programmes - to my mind Sky are by far the worst on that score.

    So I welcome a move to sort this out, but what seems to be missing from all of this is a way to allow other satellite and aven terrestrial operators to compete with their own channels. Every time something starts up outside of Sky's content they do a deal to add it to their packages. There is actually now no need for satellite tv - cable networks are better since they are not prone to weather conditions etc and do not require ugly external dishes. And so is the internet.

    Let's open up the market to small channels and limit the ability of Sky to swallow them up. I want to be able to choose INDIVIDUAL channels from different providers.

    The bundling itself is actually a swizz. If you choose the news and documentary channels there are still some channels in those groups that you don't get unlss you take the full set of packages. That's just ridiculous.

    I hope Ofcom sort all of this out - good for them if they do it, it wil be good to see someone mainatin their integrity in a world of sleaze where vested interests seem to lobby and swindle their way into getting whatever they want.

  • Comment number 8.

    Given the favours that the BBC do Labour, I suppose this kind of thing had to happen. It's a shame but why can the BBC not regain its neutrality ?

  • Comment number 9.

    David Cameron, the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, and a nose ahead in the race to be Britain's next prime minister, has announced an intention to scale back Ofcom and take it out of what he described as "making policy".

    How would that help create taxpayer value for money? A committee or Quango with huge expenses claims will have to be set up to take actual decisions while Ofcom carries on running.

    Far from cutting out government waste Cameron will add to it.

  • Comment number 10.

    I do not often agree with Ofcom but this one looks right.

    It has always been the argument right from the oil baron days that anyi-competition rules stiffle entrepreneurs taking big risks. Now that anti-competition rules have been around for c100 years (at least in USA) has anyone notice a lack of innovation and entrepreneurs taking risks?

    Sky has a dominant position in sports and movies on TV. Those are big drivers of pay TV. It should receive exactly the same treatment as any other dominant player in any other industry

  • Comment number 11.

    It's rather strange isn't it that when consumers vote with their pounds e.g. Tesco, BSkyB etc that we argue that they are too big and powerful.

  • Comment number 12.

    Why are other political blogs still open for posting comments when Brian Taylor's blog in Scotland has been closed down? We demand an explanation.

    Is this another Union dividend?

  • Comment number 13.

    The truth about Sky for years has been it monopoly in the pay TV market and no politician has gone up against them. They just moaned about the BBC and all the "bad" it is doing.
    So my question has always been what good do Sky do?
    The answer is choice, but at a cost or around £45 a month. Call me old fashioned but that is not choice in what I want to watch when I have to pay for it. After all I do have to pay the licence fee as well and that does work out more choice for the pound.

    Election spin alert on this story....

  • Comment number 14.

    The old adage the more power or control you have over peoples lives the more you want! Media in all its forms TV, internet, smartphones have everybody addicted and society is worse off for it, whats the purpose 247 advertising!
    You cannot get a break from it now its every where!, on your phone, computer, tv, printed media the constant push to sell you crap!
    Like the borg on Star Trek you will be plugged in and assimulated into the network! People are turning away from TV in millions and switching to the internet because of the poor quality tv and advertising! British TV used to be about good drams well written scripts qaulity acting now its reality shows pampering to the masses desire to be a star!
    Stopped watching tv years ago rubbish.

  • Comment number 15.

    So you see some conspiracy with the Tories and Murdoch Junior.

    What about the fact that the Tories want to reduce the BBCs size and influence so auntie plugs for the Party that will allow it to remain in its Champagne world as long as it tows the line and bashes the blues.

    Corruption comes in many forms . Be careful where you sling mud. Your hubris may end up 'biting you on the bum'.

  • Comment number 16.

    Its the laws of business the big fish always eat the little fish and become stonger, is that against the public interest well yes it is when the fish turns out to be a shark!
    I agree with the comment about bundling though be it software or tv stations. I deliberatly use open source software on my pc because I do not like the power thats developing in a few big software companies.
    Like wise one comment about they bundle tv programmes together, some you like some are rubbish but you have to buy the bundle!
    Consumers should be able to pick and mix tv shows and have free access to all of the tv shows. When one company dictates what you watch then you have social conditioning coming in to play. You are only giving me access to tv shows that you want me to watch I have no choice!.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sorry, Cameron but you (or Murdoch) will NEVER get MY vote!

  • Comment number 18.

    This issue of wholesale pricing was settled in the US in 1992, REPEAT 1992, in the US cable television consumer competition and protection act forced through by the FCC ( Ofcom's equivalent). This made the cable operators, studios et al open their content to the nascent satellite operators, Direc TV and Echostar. RESULT: thriving competition. Its unfortunate that UK business and media journalists are singularly lazy in not looking at international precedents. It is equally unfortunate that OFCOM is singularly inefficient at looking at international trends in media regulation, but they do have a tendency to suffer from paralysis by consultation and consensus. Robert Peston: time to do your homework a bit better. Grade: B-. Ed Richards: Grow a pair of *****. Grade: C-

  • Comment number 19.

    The truth is good drama costs a lot of moeny to produce what with all of the sets, costumes, tons of actors. Thats why they do reality shows now very little actors, ifs the general public thats even cheaper, so the costs of production are low.
    What happened to classic qaulity shows ?, the really good stuff?
    I live in Canada now I have got loads of channels over 60 but most are full of poor drama. I have started getting bbc drama on dvd from the public libary becuase its better quality. Shows like Morse, Frost, Hornblower, Prime Suspect, qauntity is not quality! I would sooner have less tv channels and better drama! National Geographic, Sports, Movie channels stick to those three. The Tudors has got a huge audience over here because its good drama and teaches history too.

  • Comment number 20.

    Smacks of too much interference in the marketplace.

    If Sky bids successfully for a sporting event why should they be forced to share it at all - let alone at a cutprice rate - with another company who apparently didn't think it was worth paying for in the first place, or who got outbid?

    Would Ofcom like to investigate why, if I want more than freeview, it's Sky or nowt in Crewe as Virgin flatly refuse to lay cable because so many Crewites were early adopters of satellite TV that they claim it's not worth it? That's a commercial decision too... and one I'm unhappy with because I'd like fibreoptic to netrun on, not bothered about receiving TV.

  • Comment number 21.

    Oh dear. Although I hate Labour, and particularly Gordon Clown with a vengeance, I hate Murdoch's evil empire far, far more.

    So if the Tories really are bending to Murdoch's lobbying, then no more votes from me.

  • Comment number 22.

    I think Ofcom is right to take a tough line. And let's not forget a bit of history here.

    Back in the 80s, Sky and BSB were fighting each other to the brink of destruction. The situation was so bad, if I recall correctly, that Sky could even have taken News Corp down with it.

    Government changed the rules to allow them to merge. Margins went up and profits soared. That's why they were able to ramp up sports rights prices, and outbid terrestrial competitors. What they've got now is virtually a monopoly - courtesy of government.

    So they've had a lot of help from the authorities. Consumers lost out when prices were jacked up. It's doubtful if this should have been done at the time. It's certainly time to reverse some of its adverse effects!

  • Comment number 23.

    This is excellent news. What's more, anyone who thinks the BBC is biased should take a look at most of our 'delightful' newspapers then they will know what being biased really is.

    quote/Also, News Corporation's most-widely-read newspaper, the Sun ("wot won it"), has switched allegiance from Labour to the Tories - and is currently heaping opprobrium on the government in its pages with what reads like undisguised relish./unquote

    It disgusts me that the so-called Murdoch empire has so much power in this country. I'm no admirer of Brown or the Labour party but I'll never vote for Murdoch's lickspittle.

  • Comment number 24.

    I tend to get a bit upset when people have a go at the Beeb. I realise that we're all Brits and like a good moan, but if you spend any time abroad, you get to realise very very quickly, how lucky we are to have it. The contrast is very vivid.

    As to bias, I remember very clearly labour slamming it during the Thatcher and Major years, perhaps the perceived bias depends on who you vote for and if they're in power currently?

    One thing is certain: control of media is power, and the Beeb gives us huge amounts of media very cheaply, and with some respeonsibility. Murdoch is only interested in power and your money. To let him rise to control all media is very, very dangerous.

  • Comment number 25.

    He who pays the piper calls the tune, who ever Murdoch backs will call his tune or run the risk of losing his financial support at election time!
    So much for democracy one man one vote!He really switching support from Labour to Tory blimey they had a lovers tiff LOL!
    Politicians election campaigns should be funded by the electorate, eg the people that vote them in! Not big business it completely distorts democracy otherwise. You already have these media moguls controlling what we see.
    I guess you have the off switch I suppose, I switched mine off a long time ago!

  • Comment number 26.

    Ofcom seem to be ignoring that for many parts of the UK there is no Virgin Media or fast BT Broadband or even Freeview - Sky is the only option. There is a real possibility that Ofcom's action will have the effect of putting up prices for people with no choice.

  • Comment number 27.

    Half the country is without cable. So as Megan(20) said, if you want PayTV here in Essex it's Sky or nothing. Similarly your broadband comes via BT cables strung over the street or nothing. Something has gone very wrong, and I think Sky has something to do with it. They've profited vastly for 20 years for their grand infrastructure investment (which might have cost a lot less if its primary purpose had not been to keep competitors out).

  • Comment number 28.

    Crockwood its not that we like a good moan but its now obvious to anybody with half a brian that the west is well and truely screwed up. All of the social conditioning thats being going on with women and men now in a glorified gender competition has messed things up big time.
    You have got women running round trying to be super women doing every task and job under the sun. taking mens jobs and making men feeling well and truely useless. You have women that cannot find partners because men fear the divorce laws will clean them out.
    And the me me me selfish culture has virtually come about because of pc correctness which in turn has brought the west to near collapse!
    Media moguls had a part to play in this social conditioning through pushing the work work work ethic,family life is vitually none existant now. Messing with peoples heads is dangerous and thats what media is all about social conditioning.

  • Comment number 29.

    It is oh so simple. Murdoch just wants his share. He sees so many others getting money for old rope that he wants his too.
    Correction. - He sees so many getting money for nothing.
    All those people doing nothing need to be entertained.
    He wants his share.
    The movers and shakers of society, the entrepreneurs, merely take public money and get their friends in the city to invest in no hope schemes secure in the knowledge that the tax rebates, R+D tax credits etc will cover any downside.
    He is a bit like your typical MP.
    And he wants what he sees as his entitlement.
    Whilst it still lasts.

  • Comment number 30.

    Give me the good old Beeb any day, it is value for money no question.
    Just wish they would run some of the old drama again.
    Some good quality stuff not Pop idol, and the other reality tv crap.

    Hornblower, Inspector Morse, Frost, Moll Flanders, SandBaggers, Spooks, loads of other progs like that!

  • Comment number 31.

    This seems like a good balance. BSB have made much money. They've had their innings, and now it's time for the industry to move on. Well played, OFCOM. Well played BSB. Now find another game to play - we don't need you anymore.

  • Comment number 32.

    "This is what Mr Cameron said last July: "with a Conservative Government, Ofcom as we know it will cease to exist. Its remit will be restricted to its narrow technical and enforcement roles. It will no longer play a role in making policy."

    Ofcom...."making policy!???" Come off it Cameron, you think Sky or Murdoch should do this instead??

    (Blinking Tories! Out of touch and they haven't even got in yet!!)

  • Comment number 33.

    24. At 4:57pm on 26 Mar 2010, Crookwood

    Spot on.

    When we moved to the States our cable subscription lasted 1 month. 1 week of looking for something to watch and three weeks with it stuck on the weather channel, or just turned off.

    National Public Radio on the other hand was the a gem on the airwaves along with BBC World Service. All the Americans I came to know adored Materpiece Studio, the one time slot when our UK dramas like Morse, Prime Suspect etc were on.

    As far as I can see we might have to consider the BBC/NPR model for print media if we are to keep a free press; I'm not sure about such a BBC type press myself, but I can't think of an alternative means. Perhaps our universities should become involved...

  • Comment number 34.

    hey robert,

    if you are unhappy with your provider of pay tv change to their free platform - free sat for example.

    consumers are in control here, they just need to use and apply a little pressure.

  • Comment number 35.

    The chances of getting me to pay for TV above my license fee are nigh-on zero - slightly less in fact.

    As for movies I've long since given up - new movies are mostly regurgitations of old ideas with the camera shaken around and a dirty grey filter over the lens. Who wants to watch fiction from a studio's syndicated imagination anyway?

  • Comment number 36.

    Murdoch's New Corp reminds me of a company that I worked for in the 1970s. Victorian in origin (1875)and successful until the 1970s, the family owners could not match the entrepreneurial skills of their ancestors and the business failed in the late 1980s. When Murdoch dies he leaves behind a management of family "yes" men, who have already started to fall out and the control of this kingdom of media built on debt will slip from their grasp. I will vote for any political party which promises that it will snip the hold that News Corp has over the British press and TV news. We cannot allow - and I do not think that any other country can allow - such a commanding and corrosive influence on public opinion that News Corp has, and I feel certain that, after the election, if Cameron's Conservatives make a move on Ofcom, that Ofcom will have sufficient evidence to call for a judicial review and expose the contacts and promises that Cameron has made to Murdoch. We simply cannot allow a foreign media company to influence or decide the results of a British election, and we cannot have a political party leader in hock to a foreign media owner. If the Conservatives win, I think that we are in for a very amusing time. If Labour wins, I hope that newspaper and media ownership is restricted to British nationals only. It must be an absolute rule that no one can rule the media from beyond the grave or beyond our borders.

  • Comment number 37.

    Excellent article Robert.

    This points out the shady dealing at the heart of the Tories election strategy.

    Ofcom to be scaled back. The BBC to be broken up and the licence fee hived off.

    Thats the price that the Murdochs have extracted for supporting the Tories at the election.

  • Comment number 38.

    If Cameron is thinking of neutering Ofcom, he has lost any chance of my vote.
    If he even thinks of turning the BBC into just another subscription channel, I may have to visit him with a baseball bat studded with nails to make my point (or points, heh heh).
    It means that I would never watch a programme again without commercials interrupting it.
    "You're worth it!" - get used to hearing that every 15 minutes during a moving documentary.
    It is going to happen, unless we make it clear to politicians that we want the BBC to stay as it is.
    £12 a month for all that the BBC does? What a bargain!
    Cameron probably spends that on cappuccino in a couple of days.

  • Comment number 39.

    It is the inevitable outcome of an unregulated capitalist business model that eventually the most successful company will become a large monopoly, having bought or stifled all competition.

    We need Ofcom to address that position.

  • Comment number 40.

    There's an interesting viewpoint from Evan Davies, off his bottom line program on the BBC

    He comes to the conclusion, that despite competition, humans tend to like using one dominant provider, and this follows on the internet. e.g amazon for books/ dvd, ebay for auctions, google for search etc.

    This illustrates that the need to balance competition is never going to go away. Without it virtual monopolies will form,. and will abuse power.


  • Comment number 41.

    There I was, thinking this was a business story. But no, wait for it: at the end yet another clear BBC smear against the Tories. Clear implication that they're changing policy to get Murdoch on side.

    Two questions:

    1. Why is a quango deciding policy in the first place? This is what we elect Ministers to do, so the current structure is undemocratic and therefore wrong.

    2. The department for Culture also has a policy department, so why is the taxpayer paying twice for the same thing? Seems like a reasonable solution to cut duplication; and Ofcom would appear to be the obvious area. Ministers are as I say elected and accountable to Parliament.

    However, let's not pass up the opportunity for a good anti-Tory smear. No, not at the good old BBC. It's not like Labour MPs have been caught actively selling their influence for money; or that Labour peers are currently being prosecuted for changing the law for money; or that Tony didn't sell peerages for cash; or . . . but no, it must the Tories doing wrong.

    Good old Auntie!

  • Comment number 42.

    Brits hate successful entrepreneurs, especially if they weren't born here. A bit more thought required here. How many jobs has Murdoch created in this country. How much UK tax do his companies (and employees) contribute? Is Sky overpriced? If it is, why are so many people buying into it? Does it deliver what it says on the tin? Are its programmes politically biased?

    I'm sorry but Murdoch has contributed far more to the UK economy than most. And his vision has been awe-inspiring. I can't believe that any other individual on the planet could have got satellite TV off the ground. How do you invest such sums into a startup service which has no customers and little programme content? The man is a brave genius and should command a revered place in the history book of the 20th century.

    I very much hope that he continues to reap full reward for his endeavours. Anyone can mount a fair challenge to him - by outbidding him to the Premiership football rights, for example - but no-one else has this man's vision.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm not entirely sure that News International makes profits in the UK. Their operating profit is about £20-100m, but they seem to declare an overall loss.

    If this is true, they pay no or little corperation tax in the UK, although they obviously pay NI and PAYE income tax on all their employees.

    Murdoch has ruffled many feathers, and has few fans, but this aside, the only thing that keeps capitalism at bay, and makes it perform a useful social function, is competition.

    Until Freeview started to be established across the country, there was little or no competition to Sky to compete with their recording boxes, and still no real competition to their sports coverage.

    We can't say if things would be better if there were more players, but we would expect that the consumer would pay less and have more choice.

    I like rugby, but if I want to watch it, I used to have to pay the full sky sports package at £48 a month, all year for a 6 months sports season. I couldn't choose not to pay for the football, snooker, tennis, motosports that I don't choose to watch.

    This has very recently changed, probably becuase Freeview has started to make inroads into Sky. This is what competition does. Until recently Sky was in charge of everything. It wasn't the best solution for us consumers.

    Yes it took a degree of vision to start Sky, but he wasn't alone, he bought the other competitor instead of competing.

  • Comment number 44.

    Is Ofcom deciding policy?

    It looks like they're just following it. The policy is already set by the gov.

    I can't understand why it takes them so long to figure it out, but I guess when there is so much money at stake, you've got to be sure you've followed the policy correctly.

  • Comment number 45.

    Have you never noticed how SKY actually charge you for free-to-air channels also? Its been a long time coming (too long actually). I work in the industry and I'm appalled by their stranglehold right down to their broadband service which forces people to use their own hardware.

    Cameron would be wise to step away from Murdoch. There is a real difference between entrepreneurs and greed. Entrpreneurs innovate, and I've seen little true innovation from SKY in years.

  • Comment number 46.

    Its raining, so I'm at home, bored:

    Re bias of BBC. Have a look here:

    To me, the BBC seems to be a target of any group who doesn't agree with what is reported. Being a media outlet, it is staffed by media types however.

    The crucial thing is you can complain about anything, it is investigated, and you will get a response and appeal.

    This doesn't happen unless it's very serious offence, for any other media outlet, politcal party, or large corperation. They can just lie, and tough, sue me in court if you don't like it.

    On balance, I think we're really lucky.

  • Comment number 47.

    The primary mission of the socialism is to enhance human well being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.
    Down With Career Politicians Businessmen
    Down With The Cameron
    Helmer is scared to dig deeper into Common Purpose as David Cameron and the Tories are connected with it...

  • Comment number 48.

    Well if Tories do manage to seep into power it'll be spiffing news for those ridiculous windbags whining about BBC bias.
    Can't wait for pay per view Fox Hunting.

  • Comment number 49.

    Is it any coincidence that the news international media empire now supports the tory party, just as it supported the blair government til the blair government allowed the news international empire to control both the written media and television, their price for support this time is further deregulation, when will they, or some other organisation fully control our lives, democracy is dying, with the media manipulating news to portray political bias of their choosing. Just look at the deregulation of the banking sector! regulation was put in place for a reason, not just for fun.

  • Comment number 50.

    The Government / BBC is also sold out to commercial interests to protect the likes of Tesco's et al

  • Comment number 51.

    When Sky first arrived everyone thought it was great and the choice of channels was excellent. Now after 20years Sky has a monopoly for sport and movies and uses its power to buy any programme another channel has shown and had a huge veiwing audience(i.e Lost,House)

    Sky do not care about freedom of choice ,in Murdoch's world there is only one choice, it must be Sky or nothing.

    Well done Ofcom

  • Comment number 52.

    Pay TV is the most fantastic value for money one can get, giving accurate news reports, quality programs and unbiased reporting. I pay my licence fee with great pleasure and support the BBC one hundred percent. So why has the Merdoc dynasty been given the one of the British election debates after all, their American and we all know how protectionist they are!

  • Comment number 53.

    OFCOM are a toothless quango and have not served the public well.Good Riddance.

    Murdoch will murder their arguments.

  • Comment number 54.


    Unfortunately the grass is not greener in the USA with regard to cable TV. Whatever the intentions of the 1992 Act were, it is a fact that consumers in most areas have no choice of which cable company to subscribe to, as the state governments issue local monopoly licences to whichever company pays them the most for a 'franchise'. In essence this means that two thirds of all cable subscribers in the US are forced to go with either Comcast or Time Warner and the lack of choice is one of the most common complaints about cable tv provision in the states.

    I find it strange that SKY should be punished for doing something better than anyone else. If there is no competition in the satellite tv market that is because no other company can offer anything like the service that SKY provides. They understood that the market for live sporting events was massivey undervalued by the terrestrial channels and took advantage of that fact. Also, there is only one provider of cable TV services in the UK - Virgin Media - so how is the cable tv option supposed to be any less monopolistic than what SKY does?

  • Comment number 55.

    > BSkyB will ... warn that entrepreneurs will be discouraged
    > from taking big risks if when the dividends are being
    > reaped they are told that they can't maximise those dividends.

    This is a stupid argument - the capis are lining up to take
    thier chances - they'll always find some way to gamble.

    Nope - that argument is too speculative. Let them come up
    wuth a concrete threat to us, and we might take notice, but this
    idea of "discouraging capitalists" is just pie in the sky. They
    are at our mercy, so let's fill our boots right now.

    They do it to us, given half a chance.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    What a surprise, the BBC spins a story to attempt to smear the Conservatives. If the BBC was prepared to test its market value by scrapping the license fee and going subscription only, then I might be happy to listen to the hypocritcal rubbish being spouted on this blog.

    It is all very well for posters to say that the BBC makes some good programmes, well so it should it gets 3.5 BILLION pounds a year to do so, yet it also gives us endless cooking, auction and makeover shows. Oh yes and it bombards us with 4th rate left-wing comedians who's jokes most of us left behind at Uni.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    @ 56/57/59 wahloss
    True Dat!

  • Comment number 62.

    why was that idiot cameron quiet when the financial crisis was on

  • Comment number 63.

    I see the SKY fan boys are spinning their myths as usual about the BBC.

    With SKY Subscriptions if I want to watch sky sports only I have to pay £18 a month for repeat channels before I even pay for the sport. This is more than the TV licence.

    Did any News International outlet cover the phone voicemail hacking business?

    How many extra land rovers or whatever would the British Army be able to buy for Afghanistan if certain Tax avoiding (doubtless legal) newspapers paid their proper whack of tax.

    I don't always agree with Trade Union leaders but ripping up the Sun (see youtube) is priceless.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    think wise:
    don't give sky tv any monies
    freeview / terrestrial tv runs tings

    don't vote for dc / tories

  • Comment number 66.

    sounds like top jobs go to in crowd automatically

  • Comment number 67.

    The Conservatives want to cut down OFCOM. The regulation of telecom competition, broadcasters and content, which OFTEL handle, is incredibly massive and complex and although I think there is a problem I just can't see the politicians or Civil Service being able to do it. OFCOM are not very democratic, and are, for instance, ignoring public opposition to closure of HI FI analogue broadcasting and the substitution of the inferior digital kind.

  • Comment number 68.

    People seem to forget that before the advent of Sky, the only live football was some internationals and the FA cup. Sky have raised the bar so enthusiasts can watch their teams and the coverage is second to none. Do these detractors really want to go back or are they expecting the BBC and ITV to spend their limited resources on programmes that have a limited appeal.
    Ian Macpherson

  • Comment number 69.

    Yes people did originally buy sky to watch footie, but once they got the punters in they jacked up the price so you had to pay extra to watch games.

  • Comment number 70.

    As someone who dislikes sport intensely,I am rally pleased that Sky has taken much of the sport off normal tv and forced people to pay for it.And no longer do we have to suffer the inane chatter at work following on from "Did you watch the game last night,mate?" to which nowadays the answer is usually "No"
    Mind you,it leaves normal tv crammed with 'events' like international pro- celebrity morris dancing which is even less interesting than watching paint dry. Thank the Lord for U-Tube is what I say,at least there is something to watch there!

  • Comment number 71.

    Has any politician actually had the guts to come out and say he/she is actively going to work to neuter B.Sky.B & the Murdochs?? Thought not.

    Cameron wants to get elected so badly that he's had to make the extreme statement, that Ofcom will cease to exist as we know it!? He's been bullied into saying this lest News Corporation, i.e the Murdoch's and owners of The Sun, B.Sky.B, The Times etc, say "nasty" things about him in the run-up to the General Election.

    And this will best serve the electorate how, exactly? The Tories would say, "by getting Cameron and our party elected."

    Huh!Typical Tory to the last - he'd sell his own grandmother to get elected....

  • Comment number 72.

    Quite how anyone from the BBC could report this without bias is beyond me.

    if anything needs 'reigning back' it is the excesses of the BBC, and their attitude of couldn't care less about viewers opinions as the BBC get their licence fee 'tax' regardless of whether you watch the channel or not.

    At least with Sky I have an option not to pay if I don't like it.

  • Comment number 73.

    You really do have to realise that there are certain mathematical equations here:

    Labour + OFCOM = less profit for Murdoch

    Conservative + OFCOM = Free BBC services for all stopped

    Conservative + Murdoch = BRAVE NEW WORLD

    Read, think, and unlike Ozymandis - DESPAIR


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