Brits easing BSkyB stand

Review due to consolidation in cable, growth of digital TV

LONDON — The British government has indicated it may grant satcaster BSkyB greater freedom in how it sells its TV channels to rival broadcasters.

The U.K.’s Office of Fair Trading has said it will review BSkyB’s position in pay television because of consolidation in the cable industry and the growth of digital TV.

As TV is “rapidly evolving” in Britain, the OFT said that “our approach is from the perspective that regulation should be kept to the minimum necessary to promote competition.”

BSkyB said that given that the cable industry now has major backers, such as Microsoft and France Telecom, it no longer needs regulatory help to negotiate its carriage deals.

The three U.K. cablers — NTL, Cable & Wireless Communications and Telewest — are at varied stages in rolling out their digital platforms. NTL and CWC have plans to merge, but that, too, is under review.

Meanwhile, Ondigital, the platform co-owned by ITV network companies Carlton and Granada, is performing well in competition with BSkyB’s SkyDigital platform.

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