David Prosser: Sky TV continues its losing streak

Wednesday 09 February 2011 01:00 GMT

Outlook Keen followers of broadcasting regulation must wonder why Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp is so keen on getting full control of BSkyB. This appears to be a company that is almost always on the wrong end of regulatory rulings.

Last week, for example, a Portsmouth publican won a victory in the European courts over whether she was legally entitled to show her customers Premier League football via a satellite broadcaster from Greece, rather than the more expensive Sky. Now Sky looks set for a walloping from the Competition Commission on its movies services – its preliminary view is that the broadcaster is making excess profits.

Still, let's not get too carried away with Sky's setbacks. For one thing, both these rulings are initial judgments, rather than final verdicts, and may change. For another, both will have limited impact.

On football, for example, it's worth noting that while the ruling suggests British pubs should not be restricted to British pay TV providers, the really big saving being made by the landlady in question comes from the fact that she's bought a Greek service aimed at domestic customers, rather than commercial buyers. That will be open to challenge.

On movies, it is possible the Competition Commission might ultimately tell Sky it can't have exclusive deals with all six of the major US film studios (in much the same way as it is no longer allowed exclusivity on Premier League football). But the hit on its profits from losing, say, two of those contracts would not be disastrous.

Sky may be losing some battles, but it is still winning the war.

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