BT has called on the UK regulator include pay TV in its Digital Communications Review in order to address Sky’s dominance in the market.
John Petter (pictured), CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said Ofcom needed to broaden the scope on its upcoming review of the country’s digital communications market to remedy “an overall market failure entrenching the dominance of Sky.”
Specifically, Petter said Sky’s grip on the pay TV space had lead to higher prices for consumers and less space for new players to come in and challenge the company.
The two companies have been battling each other since BT began to acquire rights to English football, previously dominated by Sky.
BT’s action comes as a retaliation to an appeal made by Sky last week, when the media company called on Ofcom to launch an investigation into “historical” failings by BT’s Openreach division.
Petter described this as a “smokescreen” designed to draw attention away from Sky’s domination of the UK’s pay TV market, where it holds a 64 percent share.
He suggested this had led to Sky customers paying approximately £50 (€69) more than the EU average per year.
Petter said: “Whereas in the energy market regulators have criticised the Big Six operators, in pay TV Sky has a 64 percent share, so there is really only the Big One.”
The BT executive also said regulation around customer switching needed to be enforced, while current “weak” policies around wholesale access should be strengthened in order to provide equal access to all market players.
Petter said: “We think Ofcom should heed the call of Sky’s biggest shareholder. James Murdoch once said in relation to Sky that 21st Century Fox fought for ‘a level playing field and to have competition policy applied with an even hand’. But when it comes to competition in pay TV, the message from Sky seems to be ‘talk to the hand’.
“We think Ofcom should make Mr Murdoch happy and give the UK a competitive pay TV market that is fit for the next decade”.
Sky, meanwhile, deflected the claims.
A spokesperson from the company said: “The reality is that, in a competitive market, customers are choosing Sky in greater numbers and staying with us for longer because of the quality and value that we offer.
“It is strange to hear BT talk about high prices when they are about to increase the price of BT Sport for Sky TV customers by 48 percent. This looks like an attempt to deflect attention from the real problems that exist in broadband, where consumers are suffering because of BT’s under-investment and there is concern about competition in the future.”
The battle between the two providers took a further twist on Friday when Sky launched a new fibre tariff offering unlimited usage for £10 a month.
Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband, said: “We know there are lots of people who would like to try superfast speeds but are put off by the high prices charged by some providers.
“With this ground-breaking offer, we’re making Sky Fibre even more accessible. Now superfast broadband is genuinely for everyone.”