BT welcomes Sky movie deals probe

UK telco and IPTV operator BT has welcomed the decision to refer the way pay-TV movie deals are negotiated to the UK Competition Commission (CC). The investigation, is in effect, into pay-TV operator BSkyB’s movie deals with the Hollywood studios.

“Consumers are poised to benefit from increased competition, greater choice and lower priced options for premium sports and we think this should also be the case for premium movies,” BT said. “We believe the CC should impose remedies for the upstream supply of movie rights from the major Hollywood studios in the first pay-TV subscription window and the wholesale supply of packages including core premium movie channels. The CC should consider all potential remedies, including operational and/or structural separation”.

Sky has recently been forced to wholesale its key sports channels to third parties at lower rates, prompting BT and others to offer new packages comprising these offerings. The Competition Commission probe could ultimately mean the same happens for Sky movie channels. It could also impact the licensing of movie content to on-demand platforms and service operators.

“Ofcom has said that under the current regulations one player will be enabled and incentivised to charge higher prices because of its market power,” said Tony Ballard, partner at media and entertainment law firm Harbottle & Lewis. “So if the Competition Commission does its stuff it will mean lower prices.”