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back to article Sky told to hand over footy and film rights

The UK's media regulator Ofcom has told Sky it should offer to sell rights to football games and Hollywood films to other broadcasters at a fair price. The investigation into pay TV was begun after complaints were made by BT, Virgin, Setanta and Top Up TV. Ofcom reckons that consumers make their choices of which service to go …

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Setanta?

Really don't want to side with Sky, but what about all the games that Setanta have exclusive rights to? I really am not willing to pay yet another subscription to a tv company and so I have lost out on a lot of games since ITV and Setanta went in with the stupidly high tv rights bid to steal it from Sky.

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Meg

So....

So we'll end up with 3 or 4 different media providers like sky / virgin / bbc / etc... all with a game on each weekend; doesn't this hinder the average fan due to the fact they won't able follow their team without paying through the nose for a subscription to all of the networks?

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Being a virgin customer

I'd settle for getting any sky channels, sky 1 would be nice. Unfortunatley, living in a listed building, i can't have either an external ariel or a satelite dish so don't really have much of a choice of providers.

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Much as I hate Sky...

It doesn't really seem fair that having paid a crapload of money for these games, they can be told they have to share after all. I hate the fact that so much football is Sky-only, but let's remember that other broadcasters had the opportunity to bid for the rights - and couldn't, or wouldn't, pay as much.

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Borked system

The system is ridiculous as it is and doesn't work.

If Sky buy up the rights to everything, they have a monopoly and can screw the customers for whatever they want (and they do). If Sky give up some content to other organisations (Setanta), you no longer have a monopoly, but now customers have to pay twice, so it costs even more.

I'm not clever enough to suggest a solution, but something needs to be done.

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Anonymous Coward

who cares about football...

sky has the rights to rugby as well, and they dont seem to be selling it since the only place you can watch SA currie cup matches is on sky sports, but they're doing a rather shit job. Sometimes they just don't broadcast the games. Sure they have a right not to show it but then at leas they should give up their sole-broadcaster rights in that area (foreign rugby).

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Alien

Footy and film?

I don't care about football - what about Stargate SG1 etc?

And one other thing, please:

#article #body {

line-height:1.2;

}

NOT 1.5! I don't need finger-space between the lines to follow the words...

It's the jacket with the two fish.

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Stop

Better Idea Innit

It's the whole exclusivity thing that's the real Do Not Want here. It creates artificial scarcity, which is always a bad thing.

Just because Sainsburys sell PG Tips teabags, that doesn't stop the Co-Op or my local corner shop from selling them. Why should any TV company have the right to prevent anyone else from broadcasting an event, just because they are broadcasting it? Ban exclusive deals, and you end up with a fairer market.

Once the analogue stations are off the air for good, there will be room for more digital ones; and in the end, if exclusivity is banned, the viewers will decide for themselves where they want to watch their sports.

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Coat

Here, here

Agree with most comments so far.

Sky paid huge amounts for exclusive coverage so why should their hand now be forced to discount hugely?

Also I was mega annoyed St Anta's handling of the recent 'away' England matches but chose not to pay for their service on top of my Sky subs. My choice, my restrcted viewing.

It happens - Live with it!

Mine's the one with the satellite dish in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

after they calm down

>Sky said it welcomed the chance to continue talking to Ofcom and would respond fully in due course.

After it has stopped swearing at their receding backs.

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Paris Hilton

What will be interesting..

is that if Sky has to share sports (basically it's just the football isn't it?) in any case then:

the bids for 'exclusive access' will be much lower in the future, which may mean that:

the football industry won't have obscene amounts of cash to pay for footballers so:

the entire football industry might actually be bought down to earth and start behaving as if it's a game rather than a religion.

I personally can't stand football anyway, and this move to make Sky play on a more level playing field (so to speak) makes me happy.

In the end I feel that this will be better for all consumers since monopolies aren't normally.

Paris because - err balls and erm money and ahem horizontal sports 'n' stuff you know?

ttfn

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Good Heavens!

"Ofcom reckons that consumers make their choices of which service to go with based on content not the features of different platforms."

These Ofcom chaps are sharp as a knife, aren't they?

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Paris Hilton

@Meg

The whole subscription method currently in place is a bit of a con anyway. I can remember talking to an insider whose view was that Sky continues to hike the price until somebody squeals. What nobody has ever adequately explained is why you are charged for access to so many channels when you can only ever watch one at a time (or two if you have the necessary kit).

Also, why do I have to put up with shedloads of adverts on subscription channels? I can understand it on free channels where they need the funds, but... sorry, this could become yet another gripe!

Paris because. Just because.

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Not so bad

@andy, meg

It seems that Sky would still have the exclusive broadcast rights to the matches it's just that other providers would be able to re-sell premium Sky channels through their service... i.e. if you're a Virgin Media customer, you'll be able to get Sky Sports without needing to shell out for a sky installation bundle - the advertising money and subscription would still go to Sky.

I know plenty of people who would jump at this kind of offer because where they live (flats/rented/listed buildings) prevents them having a Sky dish installed.

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Tom
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I'd like to watch some rugby

but I have to pay for the football to watch that on sky.

Customer choice - subsidised theatre more likely.

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Shitanta are one of the complainants

Complaint thus rendered invalid.

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Setanta?!?!?!

Last year I would have probably agreed, because prem plus was a bit cheeky. But now Setanta have got all of the England away games not to mention a lot of the other stuff they managed to steal from Sky.

It wouldn't be so bad if they had their own delivery platform, but I'm buggered if i'm going to pay the BBC for a TV license, sky for a sky plus box and subscription AND setanta to get englands away games, screw that!!

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Stop

Monopolies? Who cares

Yet another idiotic intervention that will end up costing the consumer more money.

With Setanta's being handed one of the three football packages on a plate we already have a situation where the consumer would have to pay more to get the same, in the name of protecting the consumer... how's that work exactly? I don't want the government or it's regulatory bodies sticking their oar into the free market unless someone is actually abusing a monopoly such that it affects the price paid by the consumer.

I couldn't care less if the others can't compete, they can go out of business. Perhaps Virgin should take a look at their shit standard of customer service, and absolutely dire STB user interface before whining like children to ofcom.

As much as I despise Murdoch on general principles, Sky are where they are because they moved first and have by far the best product because they invest in the technology and the content instead of trying to pick it all up late and on the cheap. I can't recall them having abused their dominant position before ofcom created fake competition for them, they didn't need to then so why start now?

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Anonymous Coward

ART / Al Jezeera and POLSAT for me

Legit subscriptions for all. Id rather give my money to companys abroad than fund the stupid billions given to the english premier ship.

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Unhappy

ofcom working against sky

Is it april the 1st already? Ofcom always rule in favour of sky so I expect nothing more than a 'discussion' highlighting the complaints the other broadcasters have.

.

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AC
Flame

i feel a rant coming on here

so sky, having built up a large loyal customer base from offering high quality products at a price people are willing to pay now have to suffer for their success ?!

Someone tell ofcom to stay the fuck away, the last time these bastards got involved it ended up costing me an extra £15 a month to watch the same amount of football over a season with the added bonus of a TERRIBLE show from saltana and TERRIBLE commentating and punditry {sp}.

Sky do a fantastic job of giving football plenty of air time over the weekend and have the power and knowledge to have an excellent commentary team and experts who can actually analyse a game after it's finished.

Football is a cash cow that sky helped to develop, wirthout their money football wouldn't be where it is now financially so damn right sky should allowed exclusive access to the empire they basically built.

saltana just want to rape the customer for as much money as possible off the back of football, whereas sky want to show people the football with highly skilled presenters and ask a poulty subscription fee in return.

saltana, ofcom, virgin and all other whingers can kiss my ass.

*goes outside for a benny hedgehog*

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Paris Hilton

Are you lot blind??? Sky won't be going broke!!

Has it not occurred to you that if (for example) Sky had a complete monopoly on all sport, then they could simply charge whatever they liked, and consumer be damned?

All that is happening is that the regulator is insisting that sky RE-SELL their programs, not give them away...

ITV don't own a platform, yet you see them doing ok(ish) from simply broadcasting and selling programmes...

Oh, and the comment above about Setanta 'stealing' from sky....I actually spat tea out at that!

Even Paris can see the logic....

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Go

Basic capitalism

...has always demanded "price it higher until somebody squeaks".

A lot of this discussion about how "unfair" Sky are is kinda missing the point.

Sky paid the clubs fair and square for these rights to these games. If it wasn't the club's wishes to have Sky exclusively showing their games, their management wouldn't have agreed to this.

(Let's remember how much ITV Digital bet the house on the games, too.)

Furthermore, Sky provide the entire distribution network - from dishes, to subscriber management systems, via the Astra satellites (not entirely owned by Sky, true enough), Sky boxes, installers, etc etc plus the massive costs of upgrading their systems to support HD.

If Virgin wanted to get the rights, they should have paid more for them.

To coin a questionable analogy - why should you pay for patio heaters to then have your neighbours either side saying they're not warm enough?

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Unhappy

I cancelled my subscription

2007 - £49 per month for all the premiership and movies

2008 - £49 per month for half the games and the same movie been shown 3 times a day

I didn't bother complaining and now I have a life away from the settee...

I also disagree with the fact I have to watch adverts. Bring back 3 channels and the midnight close down.

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Happy

Missed the point

This is not about splitting up exclusive access to share the spolis. This is about forcing Sky, who have a monopoly on Premium content such as Movies and Sports to offer these channels to other broadcasters at a wholesale rate, not a standard rate.

Sky have a media monopoly funded by the Murdoch Empire.

This allows other broadcasters such as BT Vision, Virgin Media and anyone else who wants to join the party to buy Sky Sports 1 for example for £10 and sell it to a customer at say £12 p/month. Thus covering transmission costs but still being competitive with Sky the broadcaster.

It is not much different from the regulation that forces BT Wholesale to offer access to broadband at the same price as it charges BT retail.

Sky will get more in advertising on the channel and lose a little because people won't necessarily be FORCED to take a Satellite dish to watch it.

It is NOTHING TO DO WITH SETANTA.

They offer their channels to all broadcasters at a rate that hasn't made anyone piss and moan yet.

When you own the content and the means of broadcasting it you run the risk of anti competitive practices.

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There is another way...

Of course, there is another way that Ofcom do do all this, which has already been done in the telephone and utility industries... disconnect the content providers from the channel provider. i.e. in this case split Sky's broadcasting part off into an equivalent of "BT OpenReach" or "British Gas Transco" and make it pay the same amounts to the content generation part (which would produce Sky 1, Sky Sports etc.) as the other broadcast channels, be it Virgin, Freeview or Freesat.

In this way delivery is separated from the content and a true level competitive playing field is formed for the feed into the home.

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Coat

They should..

Ban 'Exclusive' rights to any show or event unless that broadcaster is directly responsible for producing it, either as a whole or in part. (the part would be in cases where sky pays for part of the production of some show made in another nation like Battlestar Galactica, and where no other UK broadcaster is involved in production)

This would mean that they could not show Exclusive football matches unless it directly sponsored the team ( Though you could argue there not 'producing' but for the sake of argument they can). And it would probably be to expensive to sponser every top team going, so you would at least get the option of seeing something.

And if all channels have the option to show matches then the broadcaster would have to focus on content and services making shows a damn sight better than they are.

*\. Wondering if I left my common sense in the pocket.

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Alert

Lessons from history..

Ofcom are going down that BT Monopoly route. Make the monopoly (ie sky instead of bt) give wholesale access to others, then spend the next 10 years discussing what a fair "cost" is. Sky will do a BT and whack it up, only for ofcom to force a half baked pricing regime on sky. Just like FRIACO and BT Ipstream, prices will only plummet when nobody wants it anymore (and use LLU).

A couple of points from the comments:-

1. Has anyone wondered how sky offer "free" broadband? - it's not free and has a cost ie. build to LLU exchanges, rental per user to bt, capacity charges etc. Having worked in the ISP business it will be £3-6 a month per person depending on volume. Does anyone get a discount for not taking sky boradband with TV?

2. Ban exclusive rights - level the playing field and make the punter choose based on quality programming, value for money and method of delivery. I'd love to see a few hundred over hyped footballers take a pay cut :-)

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Is it just me...

...or is there an suspiciously large amount of pro-Sky comments? My Sky-paying, football-watching friends back in the UK all seem to be of the opinion that they don't pay a subscription so much as a monthly blackmail demand to watch the national game.

Over here in Aus the Premier League was shown on a minority free-to-air channel for a couple of seasons and they built up a good audience despite this being a country with no great love for round ball games (cricket being the exception). Then Murdoch outbid them, snapped up the rights and made it subscription viewing.

Back in Blighty it should be free-to-air and if the overpaid players don't like the reduced salaries it's tough.

Where's the Dirty Digger icon when it's needed?

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IT Angle

Who gives a toss?

This only affects those stupid enough to watch overpaid clowns anyway.

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@Missed the point got it spot on

Exactly what I was going to post - this is not about Sky having to split content, its about sky selling the whole Sky Sports package (for example) to virgin media subscribers at a reasonable cost - i.e. the same cost as to sky dish users.

This is came about after sky put the wholesale price for Sky1, etc. too high, so that VM dropped it from its packages - this recommendation would mean that there is a fixed wholesale cost so that they effectively have to sell it to themselves at the same price - so that it is fair, and other providers can offer the channels to their customers.

Interesting point in the article that I have said for a long time - Sky Broadcasting should be made into a separate entity from the Sky Satellite dish provider (so content and delivery should be made separate, thereby making the whole system fair - so sky broadcasting have to sell content back to themselves and to other delivery systems at the same cost).

The important thing is that the consumer doesn't get hurt - like it did with the football - now paying more for the split content

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Happy

@MahatmaCoat

It's no more blackmail than Orange "blackmailing" me into having the right to make and receive telephone calls. It's a service, is you want it, you pay for it.

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Flame

Sour Grapes from Virgin again.

It's more bloody sour grapes from Virgin as they play the victim once again. Virgin didn't want to pay a fair rate for content that Sky has invested in, same as Sky one, new programs cost money and Virgin didn't want to help offset the cost of buying in these shows with a rate that reflected the increased investment put into the channel, they expected it to remain at the same level as it had for some years.

If the other platforms want the exclusives to the games put their money where their mouth is, Setanta did that with the Barclays footy and it's helped them grow. yes it's not best for the fans, but then it's their football clubs selling the rights each time, it's not Sky making it this way. As for some of the comments calling for the splitting of Sky, why penalise a company for being good at something? Where's the incentive to succeed? If it's all so unfair legislate that it has to go on BBC the "Free" channel that everyone pays for.

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@Brian Smith

"Sky are where they are because they moved first"

Sky are where they are because they were given a massive head-start by the Murdoch-loving tories when they refused to let BT roll out a tv service over the phone network and Virgin Media's predecessors could not afford to build a cable network to every house in the country.

For there to be real cross platform competition, we need OFCOM to force the separation of content and carrier, then we will see who has the best product.

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re: Much as I hate Sky and Here, here

Well, Sky shouldn't have bought exclusivity.

It's already illegal to corner a market. And Sky were doing the same here.

AJ has the right idea, though. Ban exclusivity deals.

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Unhappy

@Steve Kay

What a load of bollocks you said just there.

If Orange didn't let you call anyone (even landline customers), THAT would be the equivalent here.

Sky are banning effectively anyone from watching live football. Orange can't ban you from calling O3 customers. Or your mum on landline.

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@Steve Kay

No it's not - infact i can't believe that you are even making such a comparision. You have a choice of provider with your mobile phone, and each provider gives you the exact same service (making and receiving phone calls) - the price may vary, the quality of service may vary, but it the same service provided.

Which TV / Broadcasting companies can you choose from to watch the PL and / or the most recent films on TV (without having to £3.99 per film that is)? Or how about 24, Stargate etc.. It's Sky and nothing more. Didn't SKY even want to remove some of their freeview channels onto a pay-to-view package recently?

Why people here are cheering on monoploys is beyond me. More choice, better competition, better for the consumer.

And to be fair, SKY's service has become worse and worse recently. As a poster above stated, before you could watch all of the PL games on SKY sports, then a few (top) games were made into pay-to-view, then more and more and more. Add to their plan of removing freeview channels into a pay-to-view package - their greed is just amazing, and they control so much of the market they can "nearly" get away with it.

More choice please.

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Unhappy

Not the point

Who gives a toss?

By Matthew Posted Tuesday 30th September 2008 16:19 GMT

IT Angle

This only affects those stupid enough to watch overpaid clowns anyway.

**************************************************

Far from it, it means football will end up on all formats so you will prob end up paying for it no matter if you watch it or not

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Happy

@ Steve Kay

Football is part of the national psyche and a mobile phone is a device for annoying people on trains. People don't riot over mobile phone services, countries don't go to war over mobile phone services, 100,000 people don't gather in Wembley for the Mobile Phone Final, people don't travel from all the nations in the world once every four years to celebrate the beautiful phone.

Two quotations that sum up the differences:

Paraphrasing Bill Shankly: "Football isn't a matter of life or death, it's far more important than that".

Andrew Thomas: "You won't find that ringtone so bloody amusing when I shove the phone up your backside."

Sir, I can only assume that you are an American.

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Anonymous Coward

@Stephen Usher

Stephen - while you make an interesting point, there is a fundamental difference between BT, British Gas and Sky, which is that BT's & BG's networks were constructed with taxpayers money, while Sky's was funded by private investment. If you were to break Sky up into platform and content delivery, there would have to be a significant amount of compensation paid to Sky's investors. Who would you suggest would pay that? The increasingly insolvent British government? I think not...

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Anonymous Coward

Is Virgin Still Upset..

...over Sky hiking their prices forcing Virgin to drop Sky 1?

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IT Angle

It's About Carriers Not Content

The issue is not that Sky cannot charge for their product, it is that Sky Networks should not be able to unfairly promote their satellite service over other delivery methods such as cable or DTT.

You have to distinguish between Transmission Networks and Content Providers.

Imagine if Microsoft used their dominance of the OS market to leverage their applications......

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Stop

Virgin!

That Virgin have the nerve to complain about anyone staggers belief! Their media arm is run by a bunch of chancers that will lie through their teeth at any opportunity if it means getting some more cash out of customers.

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@MahatmaCoat

Sorry sir, I wuz born in Warwickshire, lived in Sussex, and now South London, to English parents, themselves of 100% English stock. I may not be the biggest football fan ever, though.

As for the notion of people rioting over mobile phones - have you ever read the `Mast Sanity` web site?

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Paris Hilton

@ AC Posted Tuesday 30th September 2008 14:14 GMT

Setanta getting their hands on a tranche of football was nothing to do with OFCOM but everythying to do with the European competition commision.

I don't work for Setanta - I hate their sh!t coverage and the price they charge.

It's actually worked out not bad for me as I now watch my team, when on Setanta, at the pub :-)

Paris: She knows all about been watched

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Sky and government

"BT's & BG's networks were constructed with taxpayers money, while Sky's was funded by private investment."

Uh, without government regulation, Sky would owe me rent for making money off their access to my land.

Tax breaks and a lack of payment for disruption to services (like road, say) also constitute a HUGE investment from the taxpayers.

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Sky's abuse is YOUR FAULT.

"And to be fair, SKY's service has become worse and worse recently. As a poster above stated, before you could watch all of the PL games on SKY sports, then a few (top) games were made into pay-to-view, then more and more and more."

And you know how that came about? Lennox Lewis and some other famous bugger were to be shown on Sky Sports. Up until then, all sports shown on Sky Sports were free if you'd paid for the channel.

This one, was considered a "premium" content and Sky required you to pay for watching this boxing match.

"This is only ever going to be a very rare event. It is so that those who don't want to subscribe to the channel can still watch the most pivotal sports ventures through Sky".

Well, that's what they said.

"Bollocks" I thought.

All people had to do was NOT PAY. They didn't even have to forgo watching the fight: go down the pub/club and watch it there. The pub/club had to pay anyway and the total value to Sky would be increased by naff all.

But no, you mouth breathing idiots HAD to have it on their TV. "they said only occasionally, so that's OK, aint it?".

Well, now you know.

They tested whether you'd give them a hand shandy for a buck. Now you've accepted that, they asked for a BJ and when you still said yes, you're getting a ramrod up your arse.

And NOW you're complaining???

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@Missed the point - is right

What is at stake here is not individual channels, events or films but who will control televisions in the UK. If Sky has the most premium content and enough of it is compelling for people to base their decision on it then Sky locks out the other providers.

In some ways similar to Microsoft with their dominance of the desktop. It effectively locks competition out fro the OS market and not just Word-processing.

If Sky has a wholesale rate that is competitive then we will continue to have choice because the other carriers can offer services that people want.

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@Steve Cragg & Mark

There's a product, and people want it, so they have to pay what the seller asks, or go elsewhere.

That might suck, but that - currently - is the state of affairs. My analogy was less than accurate (although "bollocks" is a lot more succinct!), but nevertheless, the score is "pay up or shut up".

The football clubs' management and directors were ecstatically and furiously circle-jerking each other into fat, balding, Lexus-driving lemonparties of jizz-soaked board meetings when they were offered the money for exclusivity, and then patronisingly pull sad faces at the fans when they hear that their 'dealers and distributors' (that nice Mr Murdoch and his wee lad) are charging too much for their content.

If the football business feels that the fans are being hard done by, there's many a law firm who'd gladly take on the job of declaring the exclusivity contracts as unenforceable, so the rights can be sold at a fairer price to the BBC.

Keith Rupert is not a nice man, and his pay TV service is rubbish, but football directors make the RIAA look like a bunch of girl guides.

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Alert

It shouldn't go thru

At the end of the day the companies are meant to compete.

If sky decide to not cover a game they should give other operators the chance to show it for a small fee, say like 10k a game or such.

But Companies like Virgin complain that sky are stuffing them and trying to get more from them for sky1 and the like. Why dont virgin put the boot on the other foot as im sure they must have control over some of the other channells and could do the same back to them?

The better idea would be to split the broadcasters up from owning the rights to show any of the TV and then making it a wholesale market. They did it with BT and look at the competition out there in the phone and broadband market. If the regualtor want to get serious they need to split it up or say to each service they can only resell it at cost price or a price agreed between the provider, the reciever and the regulator.

Not saying this would be easy but its the best plan to get it working properly...

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