The UK media and telecoms regulator, Ofcom, is to investigate the PayTV market in the UK after the UK satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc withdrew three of its flagship television channels from a rival service provider.
Concerns are rising within the media industry that the market position of BSkyB is becoming too dominant in the satellite, cable, Freeview, and IPTV mediums. Ofcom will also look at the market, including control over content, ownership of distribution platforms, retail subscriber bases, and vertical integration.
Ofcom will then decide whether to refer BSkyB to the Competition Commission, which will assess whether BSkyB breached either UK enterprise or competition law. Rivals such as BT Group Plc, Virgin Media (formerly NTL), Top-Up TV, and Irish PayTV provider Setanta, are understood to have asked Ofcom to investigate BSkyB.
Earlier this month, BSkyB withdrew its Sky One, Sky News, and Sky Sports News channels from Virgin Media cable network, after a dispute over the amount BSkyB was charging NTL to carry its channels.
The UK satellite broadcaster is reportedly looking to launch its own pay-to-view channels of Freeview in place of the three above channels.
Last year, BSkyB encountered regulatory invention when it purchased a 17.9% stake in the commerical television channel ITV, in a move widely interpreted as a blocking measure to prevent Virgin Media from purchasing the channel. The Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom are due to report on the matter in late April.