Sky allowed to block BT Sport ads
June 20, 2013 12.47 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Sky was not in breach of Ofcom’s advertising codes, when it refused to carry ads for the new BT Sports channels on Sky Sports, because it was pursuing a legitimate commercial interest

The findings by the media regulator were published Thursday, 24-hours after it emerged BT had filed another complaint, this time over Sky’s refusal to wholesale Sky Sports 1 and 2 to YouView.

“We are pleased that Ofcom has confirmed that we are acting entirely reasonably in declining to advertise a direct competitor on Sky Sports. As we said at the time, BT’s demands are a bit like Tesco expecting to advertise inside Sainsbury’s,” said Graham McWilliam, Group Director of Corporate Affairs at Sky. ”BT has reinforced its reputation as a serial complainant by returning to the regulator about the supply of Sky Sports 1 and 2 to the YouView platform. Our position here is just as reasonable as in advertising. BT has itself been clear that it wants to be the exclusive seller of its own sports channels in order to shore up its broadband business. We simply want a level playing field whereby each company supplies its sports channels to the other so we can both offer our customers all Premier League football next season”.

The advertising complaint goes back to January 2013, when Sky Media was approached by media buyers Maxus US to request airtime for a BT Sport campaign on the Sky Sports channels.

BT Sport is the vechicle for BT’s own Premiership rights and the three channel package is effectively being given away to subscribers to the BT Broadband packages.

Sky Media told BT Sport that although it would run advertisements for a wide range of BT products: “Sky will not carry advertising from a sports TV retailer on Sky Sports”.

BT argued that the reason behind the decision was because Sky did not retail the channels, unlike ESPN [later bought by BT in the UK], where Sky did screen advertisements.

Sky said it was trying to protect the brand and revenue of its channels.