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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 08:10 GMT
Ofcom expresses pay TV concerns
Ofcom headquarters
Ofcom can refer the pay TV industry to the Competition Commission
UK media regulator Ofcom has raised possible concerns over competition within the pay TV sector.

The regulator has questioned whether firms have the incentive to make premium content available to other retailers and platforms.

Ofcom launched an investigation into the pay TV industry in March, following a submission from a group including Virgin Media.

The submission came after Virgin lost access to some Sky TV channels.

In a consultation document, Ofcom said that the pay TV market had delivered "significant benefits" to consumers.

But it said that recent developments, such as the emergence of new platforms and content providers, raised possible concerns.

BT, Setanta, Top Up TV and Virgin Media want Ofcom to refer the industry to the Competition Commission.

Premium content

The regulator said it welcomed views on whether firms have the incentive to make premium content, such as sports and movies, available to other retailers and platform operators.

It also expressed concern about the practice of making customers buy a basic TV package before they are allowed to access to premium content.

Earlier this year, Virgin Media lost access to several Sky TV channels after a bruising battle during which the two failed to agree a new contract.

The National Consumer Council said the dispute was bad for customers.

Ofcom's investigation includes subscription and on-demand services across cable, digital terrestrial television (DTT), satellite and the internet.

BSkyB is the biggest provider of pay TV services through its satellite platform.

The 3.3 million subscribers who receive cable television from Virgin Media have been unable to watch some Sky channels, such as Sky One, since the beginning of March following the spat between the two broadcasters.

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