LONDON — Britain’s communication regulator said Thursday it was reviewing plans by British Sky Broadcasting to add digital terrestrial services to its satellite services.
The proposal, in partnership with National Grid Wireless, would replace Sky’s free-to-air channels, and is subject to approval by Ofcom, the communications regulatory agency.
“The Sky/NGW proposal would increase the choice and availability of retail pay TV services on the (digital terrestrial) platform,” Ofcom’s announcement said.
If BSkyB became the main retailer of pay TV services both by satellite and digital terrestrial, “other providers of pay TV services may find it more difficult to enter the market. This may not be in the long-term interest of consumers,” Ofcom said.
The announcement came two days after the Competition Commission ruled that BSkyB’s 17.9% stake in broadcaster ITV restricts competition and is against the public interest.
BSkyB, which is 39% owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., could be forced to sell part or all of its stake in ITV.
BSkyB shares were down fractionally at 685.5 pence ($13.99) on the London Stock Exchange.
Dresdner Kleinwort said Thursday’s development apparently signals that BSkyB faces “a slightly more threatening regulatory environment … from Ofcom, but it shouldn’t impact the shares too much today.”