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Sky ban on ads for BT Sport channels sparks row

Sky is refusing to carry an ad campaign for the BT Sport channels set to launch on YouView and BT Vision this summer.

BT has complained to media regulator Ofcom that the ad ban is “undue discrimination” that breaks UK broadcasting rules.

The former broadband-and-phone monopoly has lined up millions of pounds of advertising for its channels, which will carry Premier League football, Premiership rugby, the FA Cup and Europa League.

Sky ban on ads for BT Sport channels sparks row
The BT Sport logo: as you won’t see it on Sky

Read more about the BT Sport channelsBT said: “We are happy to take Sky’s advertising but they seem afraid of taking ours. It’s like a rottweiler running away from a new born puppy.”

The Ofcom Code on the Prevention of Undue Discrimination between Broadcast Advertisers states: “A television broadcaster must not unduly discriminate between advertisers that seek to have advertising included in its licensed service.”

BT Sport is expected to go on air on August 1, when BT takes over the ESPN channels, ahead of its first live Premier League football game on August 17.

Sky takes the gloves off

Sky has previously both advertised and directly retailed ESPN and its predecessor, Setanta Sports. BT has a larger and better selection of football matches than ESPN or Setanta, and will sell them directly to Sky subscribers as well as its own.

Ofcom has never been asked to investigate this kind of breach of its rules, which could see Sky fined – but the satellite TV giant was bullish in response.

A Sky spokesman said: “There many other avenues for BT to advertise its sports channels without seeking to take advantage of the investments that we’ve made to build Sky Sports. 

“It’s entirely reasonable for us to choose not to carry advertising for a directly competing service.”


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