Sky locked in advertising battle with BT over sports channels

BSKYB has refused to cede ground over its advertising dispute with BT, after Ofcom revealed that the satellite broadcaster had blocked promotions for BT’s new sports channels.

Ofcom yesterday published a complaint from BT, which claimed Sky had broken the broadcasting code by not screening BT adverts on its Sky Sports channels.

John Petter, BT Retail’s managing director, said the move was “like a rottweiler running away from a new born puppy” but Sky claimed that it is “entirely reasonable for us to choose not to carry advertising for a directly competing service”.

BT has become a growing threat to Sky’s domination of sports broadcasting, and has invested heavily in TV rights in a bid to prevent its base of broadband subscribers from defecting to its rival. The company spent £738m on the right to broadcast certain Premier League football games from next season, and has snapped up rights to several other competitions as well as signing up stars including the BBC’s Jake Humphrey.

Sky, which has muscled in on BT’s broadband turf in recent years, said: “There many other avenues for BT to advertise its sports channels without seeking to take advantage of the investments that we’ve made to build Sky Sports.”

Ofcom will now arbitrate over the complaint. The decision could have wide-ranging repercussions for advertising, affecting other policies such as Sky’s refusal to screen adverts for Netflix on its film channels.