Ofcom raises pay TV concernsIt says there are some 'warning signs'

18 December 2007

The UK’s broadcast regulator has raised concerns over competition within the pay-TV market.

Ofcom said there were ‘warning signs’ that consumer choice may be limited in some areas.

The regulator’s initial assessment of the £4 billion pay-TV market comes after it launched a probe into the sector in March.

Ofcom originally began the investigation following complaints from Virgin Media, BT, Setanta, and Top Up TV after Virgin lost access to some Sky TV channels.

Premium content

Ofcom says paid-for TV services have ‘delivered significant benefits' to the 11 million consumers who use them. 

But the regulator said it had concerns over whether broadcasters had the incentive to make their premium content, such as sports and movies, available to others.

It has also questioned whether businesses can compete effectively when buying premium content, and had concerns about the practice of making consumers buy a basic package before they are allowed to buy a premium service.

Competition 

BT, Setanta, Top Up TV, and Virgin Media allege that competition in the pay-TV industry is not working effectively and want the issue referred to the Competition Commission.

Sky disputes this and says it believes that competition is effective and is delivering benefits to consumers.

Ofcom will now gather views on its initial assessment of the market and will then publish a further consultation in spring 2008.