Sky's £125m buyout of Amstrad will face scrutiny from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), regulators have announced. The City watchdog will probe whether the deal will substantially reduce competition in the set-top box market. Amstrad already builds 30 per cent of Sky boxes. The OFT has the power to trigger a full inquiry from …
>> ... will substantially reduce competition in the set-top box market
What competition ? There si no competition in set top boxes - you use what Sky says or what Sky says. The OFT would do better to look at :
Sky controls the box market by using a proprietry excryption that it only licences to manufacturers that make boxes conforming to Sky's own limited specs - therefore there is no popssibility of manufacturers coming up with their own advancements.
Sky controls access to channels - so want a channel on Sky, abide by what Sky dictates or you don't get in the EPG.
Ofcom have already decided to scupper the possibility of HD via Freeview (by selling off all the 'unneeded' bandwidth) which will leave Sky in a monopoly position for HD channels for most of us.
It's about time Sky was made to decide what it wants to be :
- a common carrier and carry all channels on open and non-descriminatory terms. That means hiving off all it's program production etc.
- a programme maker, in which case it should be made to sell off the transmission part and compete in an open market.
As it is we have no competition beyond "take it or leave it" !
Whilst you are correct that you use whatever Sky sends you, there are many options of Sky box made my different companies, the largest being Pace... how they decide which they send to people i have no idea, but obviously by buying Amstrad they're now far more likely to send out an Amstrad box as they'll be making far more profit from the box aswell as the substandard service....
There is competition
Sky boxes are manufactured by three companies, Pace Amstrad and Thomson, If you get a box through Sky you usually have to have whatever the installer has on board. You can however source your box from elsewhere and dictate what box you get.
Actually Amstrad only design and develop set top boxes. They subcontract out their manufacture.