MEDIA: Whitbread fury at Sky hike

Whitbread, the brewing and leisure group, has lashed out at BSkyB for raising its ratecard to coincide with the start of the football season.

Whitbread, the brewing and leisure group, has lashed out at BSkyB

for raising its ratecard to coincide with the start of the football

season.



The increases mean the average weekly cost for a pub subscribing to Sky

Sports faces a 74% increase from pounds 18 to pounds 31 a week, from

October 1.



Whitbread has responded by reviewing how many of its pubs will now

subscribe to the Sky Sports service. Some 1200 pubs currently carry the

service.



Beefeater, one of Whitbread’s pub operations, has already cut, by almost

a half, the number of pub-restaurants subscribing. It argues that in

some of the pubs, subscribing is no longer economically viable.



A Whitbread spokesman said: ’Sky is enforcing rather large price

increases and our operating companies are reviewing every pub that

carries the Sky Sports service.’



A spokesman for BSkyB said: ’You have to provide good value to the

market.



We believe we provide good value for money and good opportunities to

build business round live sports events. Many pubs have enjoyed the

benefits that having Sky programming brings, whether that’s bringing

people in on traditionally quieter nights or making more regular

visits.’



The Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating whether BSkyB

should be forced to unbundle premium services such as Sky Sports from

its basic package. The investigation was started following complaints by

several cable operators.



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