Ofcom rules will allow BT to offer free football TV

Steve Dinneen
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BT is allowed to offer free Premier League football as Ofcom has already withdrawn restrictions preventing the firm offering “bundle” deals.

The former state operator was governed by strict laws aimed at improving competition. But recent changes mean BT would be allowed to tie up Premier League matches with its broadband and fixed-line services. The move is being discussed at board level as a way to break Sky’s stranglehold on subscription TV.

The decision to deregulate BT was taken after Ofcom said it no longer had “significant market power” in the UK landline market. It followed increased competition from Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk.

A further Ofcom ruling is expected in the coming weeks that will force Sky to slash its wholesale prices, allowing BT to show football matches cheaply. One option being discussed is a package including the Premier League priced at just £15. Sources close to the matter say former Sky boss Tony Ball, now a director at BT, is pushing for this approach.

BT Vision has struggled to convince subscribers to switch to its service. It has just 436,000 users compared to 9.5m at Sky. BT insists no decision has been made.