Tribunal says REAL can have Sky

REAL Digital, the ‘alternative pay-TV provider’ which says it will launch a DTH service in January next year, has won a case before the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal meaning it must, in principle, be included in the wholesale pricing offer imposed on BSkyB in respect of Sky Sports 1 and 2.

This means Real, a privately backed venture headed by David Henry, can apply to receive the channels wholesale on the same terms as Virgin, BT and TopUp. However this doesn’t mean the sports channels will be part of the launch line up as supply remains subject to contract with Sky. BSkyB can impose minimum service guarantees that will include financial assurances that the disputed full wholesale price can be placed in escrow pending Sky’s appeal against Ofcom’s price regulation. There will also be concerns over Real’s content security arrangements and its use of the Sky brand.

Real says it will launch a ‘best value’ system featuring 200+ free channels and pay channels ‘potentially including Sky Sports 1 and 2…. [which] will be offered at a new low cost monthly price.’

Real will sell STB’s for £159 with single tuner HD, or around £270 for a REAL HD+ PVR. The company says the service will ‘include a new 7-Day EPG and a secure encryption system, which uses a Smartcard.’ There will be a part exchange deal for those handing in their existing FreeSat decoders.