BSkyB to extend cable deadline

BY MATHEW HORSMAN

The cable and satellite broadcaster BSkyB must give UK cable operators more time to decide whether to sign a fixed-term agreement for the supply of programmes, including the Sky Movie Channel and Sky Sports.

The Office of Fair Trading has asked that the deadline, originally 31 May, be extended by 30 days.

The decision comes in the midst of an increasingly bitter row between some cable companies and BSkyB, 40 per cent-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, over the terms under which Sky programming is supplied.

Nynex CableComms and TeleWest, two large cable operators, signed a seven- year fixed price agreement earlier this month, and have agreed not to invest in or transmit film and sports programmes in competition with Sky.

Other cable companies, including Videotron and CableTel, have lodged complaints with the OFT and competition authorities in Brussels, seeking to overturn what they term "anti-competitive" contracts that have divided the cable market.

Both Nynex and TeleWest have withdrawn support from "cable-exclusive" programming launched to provide the industry with a alternative to Sky. Comcast and General Cable, two mid-sized cable operators, have not yet decided whether to accept BSkyB's terms and to drop the alternative programming venture.

At risk is a package of sports programmes for the SportsWire channel. Rights to the World Cricket series, as well as secondary rights to Wimbledon Tennis, had both been secured by the cable companies through this joint vehicle. Funding of the service is guaranteed only until 31 May, after which partners would have to extend their backing for a further period.

The OFT confirmed that it had received representations from cable operators criticising the terms of the BSkyB fixed-term agreements and would review the submissions in coming weeks. The complaints were thought to have embarrassed OFT officials, as the fixed-term contracts were the result of an informal agreement between the regulator and BSkyB earlier this year to render the market more competitive.

The dissenting cable companies also says that BSkyB controls access to pay-TV in the UK because it controls the technology used to scramble and unscramble the signals. They also claim that arrangements between BSkyB and Astra, the Luxembourg satellite operator, reduce competition in the UK.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - Cit...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Debt Collector - Multiple Roles

£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks