Rivals want Ofcom to challenge Sky's dominance

BSkyB' rivals are urging Ofcom to loosen the satellite broadcaster's grip on top sports events so that Premier League football, Test cricket and first-run Hollywood movies become more widely available.

The broadcasting regulator meets this week to approve a ruling on the UK pay-TV market that BSkyB's rivals believe will oblige it to sell them so-called premium content at wholesale prices. But the companies fear the details of the ruling could "let Sky off the hook" by allowing the News Corp-controlled company to set its own prices or delay the deal indefinitely.

Channel owners Setanta and Top-Up TV and the distributors BTVision and Virgin Media oppose what they call Sky's market-dominating position.

Sean Williams, BT Retail's managing director of strategy, told the FT. "A vicious circle has developed. Sky has the most premium customers so it can always outbid others for the premium content, and because it gets the premium content it can always get and keep the premium customers."

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