Virgin pay-TV banking on Ofcom

Virgin Media is betting on new rules governing pay-TV being in place as early as next July, potentially allowing it to make a big marketing push for the next soccer season.

The company hopes regulator Ofcom will force dominant pay-TV firm BSkyB to make its most sought-after content, including sports and movies, available to other broadcasters more cheaply. Sky has already said it would fight such a ruling. Speaking at the Reuters Global Media Summit, Chief Customer and Operations Officer Andrew Barron said if the decision was approved, the group would increase marketing around its premium products such as Sky Sports which would in turn boost BSkyB.

"It's not (currently) economic for us to push a product on which we reckon we lose money," he said. "Why would we do that?"

A Virgin Media spokesman said the company expected a final verdict by March with new terms in place in time to market the 2010 soccer season.