Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sky ordered to sell sports channels at wholesale price.

Ofcom have ordered Rupert Murdoch to sell Sky Sports to other broadcasters at a wholesale price.

Ofcom said its decision, after a three-year investigation into the industry, would ensure "fair and effective competition".

Parent company BSkyB immediately said it would challenge Ofcom's conclusions before the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

It said today: "Ofcom has concluded that Sky has market power in the wholesale provision of premium channels. Ofcom has also concluded that Sky exploits this market power by restricting the distribution of its premium channels to rival pay TV providers. This prevents fair and effective competition, reduces consumer choice and holds back innovation and investment by Sky's rivals.

"Today's decisions are therefore designed to ensure fair and effective competition which should lead to greater investment, innovation and choice for consumers."

Sky has almost monopoly control when it comes to cable TV services in Britain, and I find this decision by Ofcom especially interesting because there are rumours that David Cameron has done a deal with Rupert Murdoch, which gives the Tory party the support of Murdoch's newspapers, in return for Cameron seeing off what Murdoch views as the threats from Ofcom.

And the links between Tory changes in policy and the wishes of the Murdoch family have become blatantly obvious:

In April 2008, James Murdoch complained bitterly about the media regulator Ofcom in his first major speech after taking over as chief executive of News Corporation in Europe and Asia. The following year, David Cameron announced that a Conservative government would cut Ofcom down to size.

Last summer James Murdoch attacked the "abysmal record" of the BBC Trust – the body created by Labour to over see the BBC – in a lecture he gave at the Edinburgh Festival, singling out its "total failure" to stop the BBC buying the Lonely Planet travel guides, a takeover that Murdoch denounced as an "egregious" invasion of private enterprise by the state. Less than two months later, Jeremy Hunt promised that the Tories would abolish the Trust.

In the same lecture, Murdoch complained that BBC performers like Jonathan Ross are being paid salaries that "no commercial competitor can afford". He had barely uttered the words before Ed Vaizey, a shadow media minister, promised that a Tory government would compel the BBC to publish the salaries of its top performers.

So Murdoch will take this to appeal and try to play out the clock until Cameron's Tories get elected and then the Tories will proceed to do whatever he wishes them to do so that Sky's monopoly can be maintained.

There's nothing surprising in Murdoch's behaviour, but it does seem a little odd that a Tory party who would have us believe they believe in the free markets and competition find themselves fighting to maintain Murdoch's monopoly.

It's yet another example that Cameron will ditch any principle if he thinks it will get him into Downing Street.

Click here for full article.


daveawayfromhome said...

Foriegn-born Rupert Murdoch in league with conservatives in an effort to gather yet more power in a country not his own?
Oh, wait. No it's not. In fact, it sounds eerily familiar...
Back in the 90s, after the Republicans took over following the Contract With America, Murdoch got a tax cut for FOX worth millions. At the same time, the GOP was cutting funding to Public Broadcasting (by millions) because it was "too liberal". We see how that worked out.

What I dont get is why ordinary people dont march in the streets demanding his head, there or here in the States.

Does anyone ever ask why doesnt the BNP complain against him? I mean, isnt he a foriegner come to England to take jobs (like at the BBC Trust)? (Dont worry, I know the answer).

Kel said...

It is eerily familiar, isn't it Dave. Conservatives of every stripe bend over backwards as long as his papers support them.