BSkyB faces a fine of up to £230m and a rethink of its
distribution strategy after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) suggested
this week it had breached competition laws.
The OFT said it proposed to rule that BSkyB has abused its dominant
position in the market in the way it priced its premium channels, such
as Sky Sports 1 and Sky Premier.
BSkyB, under chief executive Tony Ball, has until March 29 to submit
evidence to the OFT. A final ruling is expected in mid-2002.
Should the Murdoch-owned satellite broadcaster lose its fight, rival
broadcasters such as Telewest, NTL and ITV Digital, which have paid
millions to show its channels, may sue BSkyB for damages.
"It is potentially good news for consumers and for competition in the
pay-TV market. We have long argued that Sky has abused its dominant
market position," said an ITV Digital spokesman.
A spokesman for BSkyB said: "BSkyB has not infringed the Competition Act
and welcomes its first opportunity to put its case to the OFT."