Ofcom: Sky ‘continues to contravene’ end of contract notification rules

The UK’s broadcast regulator, Ofcom, has found that Comcast-owned pay TV operator Sky is in violation of contract rules.

Closing a case which was opened in December 2020, Ofcom ruled that Sky failed to comply with the requirement to issue end-of-contract notifications to certain pay TV customers. 

This came after the regulator introduced new rules in February 2020 that require telcos to notify their customers when their minimum contract period is coming to an end. Notifications must be sent to customers of all ‘electronic communications services’.

Sky however argued that its pay TV services do not come under the category of ‘electronic communications service’, and that it has no obligation to inform its pay TV customers at the end of their contract.

In its final decision, published August 19, the regulator said: “Ofcom has concluded that where Sky’s pay TV services rely on digital satellite transmission, Sky provides a public electronic communications service to its customers. As such, Sky is a ‘regulated provider’ within the meaning of General Conditions C1.21 to C1.29 and it is obliged to send end-of-contract notifications to its customers of those pay TV services.”

Its statement goes on to declare that “Sky has contravened, and continues to contravene” the regulations, and that it has “issued a Confirmation Decision to Sky under section 96C of the Communications Act 2003.”

It concluded: “We have decided that Sky must take all necessary steps to comply with its regulatory obligations to send end-of-contract notifications to customers of its relevant pay TV services, starting no later than nine months from the date of this decision. 

“In addition, Sky must provide Ofcom with a progress report no later than four months from the date of this decision on the steps that it will take to ensure that the remedy is fully implemented within the nine months given.”

Sky has the capacity to appeal the decision, which would see the directions suspended pending the decision of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

Responding to the ruling, a Sky spokesperson told Digital TV Europe: “We continue to believe Sky’s Pay TV service is not an electronic communication service under the legal definition in the Communications Act 2003, but we note the outcome of Ofcom’s investigation. We look forward to working with Ofcom to seek a legal review.”

Tags: Ofcom, Sky

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