Appeal Court orders BSkyB sports rights review
The UK’s Court of Appeal has ruled that a lower court should take a fresh look at BSkyB’s arrangements for wholesaling its sports content to market rivals, the latest development in a near four-year battle.
Comms regulator Ofcom ruled in March 2010 that the satellite broadcaster should make its two main sports channels available to market players such as Virgin Media and BT at a lower price.
BSkyB responded by taking the case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). When that ruled August 2012 in its favour, BSkyB’s rivals took the case to the higher Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal said it could not uphold the earlier ruling because it had failed to take into consideration whether the prices charged by Sky gave rise to “competition concerns” for its rivals.
“The only way in which this error can satisfactorily be dealt with is for the order of the CAT of 6 March 2013 to be set aside and for the matter to be remitted to the CAT for further consideration, findings and conclusions,” the court said.
BSkyB suggests the ruling did not change the fundamental finding that it had engaged constructively with other distributors over the supply of its sports channels.
“Sky continues to believe that Ofcom’s 2010 decision is flawed and that the WMO [wholesale must offer] obligation ought properly to be removed, and will continue to pursue all available options to achieve this aim,” the company said in a statement.