Sky faces movie restrictions from Competition Commission

BSkyB could lose its long-standing hold on the exclusive rights to broadcast movies from the six major Hollywood studios in the first subscription pay-TV window, due to a provisional ruling by the Competition Commission.

The Other Guys: Sky Movies HD feature
The Other Guys: Sky Movies HD feature

The commission decided Sky's control over the rights contributes to a lack of effective competition in the overall pay-TV market and has floated three possible courses of action.

One is to restrict the number of major studios from which Sky may license first-subscription pay-TV window rights.

Another is to restrict the type of rights Sky can license, so that, for example, the distribution method of subscription video on-demand could be made available to other providers.

Also under consideration is compelling Sky to offer any movie channel containing first subscription pay-TV window content created by a rival, a measure dubbed "must retail".

It has opened a consultation on these possible remedies and has set a deadline of 9 September for parties to respond. The separate deadline for responses to its provisional findings is 16 September.

Laura Carstensen, chairman of the movies on pay-TV market investigation, said: "At the heart of the problem is Sky's strong position in the pay-TV market, with twice as many subscribers to pay-TV as all other traditional pay-TV retailers put together.

"This provides Sky with a great advantage when it comes to bidding for movie rights, which no rival bidder has yet been able to overcome – and, if things stay as they are, we see no likely prospect of change."

Sky hit back at the commission in a statement, saying it believes "no regulatory intervention is required and that consumers benefit from high levels of choice, value and innovation across a wide range of providers".

It continued: "We note that the CC's findings remain provisional and have been issued for consultation. We will continue to engage with the CC during the ongoing regulatory process."

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