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Ofcom sides with Sky in BT advertising spat

Updated Rules that Sky doesn't have to show BT Sports adverts
Fri Jun 21 2013, 13:00
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UK TELECOM WATCHDOG Ofcom said on Thursday that Sky doesn't have to broadcast BT's Premier League advert campaign, ruling its refusal an acceptable commercial competitive practice.

In April it was revealed that Sky had refused to promote BT's Premier League football coverage, which caused BT to complain to Ofcom. At the time John Petter, MD of consumer for BT Retail said, "We are happy to take Sky's advertising but they seem afraid of taking ours. It's like a rottweiler running away from a newborn puppy."

However, it looks like complaining to Ofcom didn't do BT any favours, as the watchdog told The INQUIRER today that it has ruled that Sky doesn't have to air the adverts.

"We accept that a broadcaster may in principle have legitimate commercial reasons to refuse advertising from a direct competitor on its own service," Ofcom said in a statement.

"We also consider, given the limited extent of the effects on BT, that Sky's approach is proportionate to its aim. We therefore consider that Sky has not unduly discriminated against BT in that respect," it said, adding that Sky is not in breach of the code for the Prevention of Undue Discrimination between Broadcast Advertisers.

BT understandably isn't too pleased with today's ruling. In a statement a spokesperson for the company said, "With regulation, you win some and you lose some. Whilst this decision has gone against us, we are delighted that Ofcom is going to investigate Sky over their refusal to supply us with Sky Sports on Youview.

"That is a far bigger issue for us than their refusal to show our ads so this has been a good week for BT in terms of regulation."

Sky was pretty happy with the ruling, howvever. Graham McWilliam, group director of corporate affairs at Sky said, "We are pleased that Ofcom has confirmed that we are acting entirely reasonably in declining to advertise a direct competitor on Sky Sports. As we said at the time, BT's demands are a bit like Tesco expecting to advertise inside Sainsbury's." µ


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