OFT unties cable TV supply row

The long-running battle between BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster, and small cable companies will be resolved, probably this week, when the Office of Fair Trading approves new terms for conditions governing the supply of Sky television programming to the cable industry.

Earier this year, three cable companies - Bell Cablemedia, Videotron and International CableTel - complained to the OFT about long-term supply contracts that had been signed between BSkyB, 40 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and the two leading cable operators, Telewest and Nynex CableComms. Other media companies were believed to have supported the complaint.

Under the contracts, the two cable companies would receive guaranteed supply of Sky television programming for broadcast on their networks, in return for agreeing not to finance so-called "cable-exclusive" programming that might compete with BSkyB's own offerings.

At the same time, the dissident cable operators expressed concern over BSkyB's rate card for programming supplied to cable companies that did not sign long-term agreements.

The OFT ruled in June that the contracts contained clauses that were "anti-competitive." The regulator also said it would review a revised rate card, developed by BSkyB, that aimed to accommodate criticisms levied by the cable industry.

While the OFT declined to specify the offending clauses, the Independent has reported that two items, covering pay-per-view sports and film programming, had attracted the OFT's attention.

A Sky insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed late last week that the two clauses had been watered down, and expressed confidence that the OFT would accept the revised terms.

Eugene Connell, chief executive of Nynex CableComms, said he was "highly satisfied that the terms of the revised agreement were in the best interests of Nynex".

The revised rate card was also believed to be broadly acceptable to the OFT, and an announcement allowing BSkyB to apply the new charges is also likely within the next week to 10 days. BSkyB has agreed not to impose the conditions of the existing agreements.

The complaining cable companies had hoped that a change in the contract terms might encourage Nynex and Telewest to resume their involvement in a plan to develop cable-exclusive programming for sports and film. Both companies withdrew their support upon signing the controversial agreements in May. But Nynex's Mr Connell said his company would not rejoin the cable-exclusive programming initiative, despite the changed terms of the BSkyB agreements.

Telewest has indicated it has no intention of again backing the film and sports programming under development by the cable industry.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there