BSkyB cleared on pay-TV movie dominance

City A.M. Reporter
Broadcaster BSkyB's strong position in movies does not adversely affect Britain's pay-TV retail market, a competition watchdog said this morning, pointing to increased choice with the arrival of new entrants Lovefilm and Netflix.

"Sky Movies, which currently offers the first pay movies of all the big Hollywood studios, is not a sufficient driver of subscribers' choice of pay-TV provider to give Sky such an advantage over its rivals when competing for pay-TV subscribers as to harm competition," the Competition Commission said.

The regulator had previously said Sky's subscriber base of more than 10 million homes gave it an advantage over rivals in bidding for the rights to first-run Hollywood movies before it did a U-turn in May.

It said today that more consumers valued access to a broad range of content and price than they did to seeing recent movie content.

The launch of movie services by Netflix and Lovefilm had also increased competition and consumer choice, it said, adding that Sky movies had recently launched on Now TV, giving consumers an opportunity to subscribe to its film package regardless of their pay-TV provider.

Rivals BT and Virgin Media said they were disappointed at the CC's final judgment.
"(The CC) has misjudged the importance of first subscription pay TV window movies from the major studios and has failed to take action to address Sky's monopoly control over these movie rights," BT said.