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06/12/2000

OFT CONDUCT INQUIRY INTO BSKYB PAY-TV

THE Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are to conduct an inquiry under the auspices of the Competition Act into BSkyB’s activities regarding wholesale pay-tv.
The move follows an OFT review of undertakings given by the company in 1996 to meet concerns about competition in the market for wholesale pay-tv. BSkyB have been released from one undertaking which deals with conduct now regulated by the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and will shortly be released from another undertaking which only applies to analogue satellite tv.
The OFT will examine whether the company has infringed prohibitions in the new Competition Act. The Act, which came into force on March 1 this year, aims to prevent abuse of a dominant market position and the drawing up of agreements or concerted practices which have a damaging effect on competition in the UK.
Announcing the investigation, which is expected to take up to six months, the said that no assumption could be made at this stage on whether there had been an infringement.
The previous undertakings were amended in February 1999, with retrospective effect from October 1998. The amendments principally reflected the Director General’s decision to remove from the wholesale ratecard four of BSkyB’s basic channels, which were considered not to involve market power.
However, it is understood that the ratecard has been amended several times since the undertakings came into force.
(CD)
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