BSkyB wins approval from U.K. watchdog

Consumer choice has grown, says Competition Commission

LONDON — U.K. paybox BSkyB’s strong position in the local pay TV movie market “does not adversely affect competition,” the Competition Commission has confirmed.

The commission’s final report, published Wednesday, confirms its previous assessment given in May.

The regulator said the arrival in Blighty of streaming services such as Netflix and Lovefilm had increased consumer choice.

BSkyB, which has the first window on broadcast rights to new Hollywood films on TV in the U.K., said it welcomed the decision.

Laura Carstensen, who led the inquiry, said: “We have seen significant change in pay TV movie services in the course of our inquiry, and have considered the implications of these developments carefully in reaching our final views.

“It is clear that consumers now have a much greater choice than they had a couple of years ago when our investigation began.”

However, she added that “competition in the pay TV retail market remains ineffective, but we were asked by Ofcom to look specifically at the role of first pay movie content and Sky’s position with regard to these rights.”

In a statement, BSkyB said there was “overwhelming evidence that U.K. consumers are well served by strong competition between a growing number of TV providers, including those offering movies.”

It added: “As this dynamic marketplace continues to evolve, we remain committed to innovating for customers so that U.K. consumers continue to benefit from choice, value and innovation.”

A year ago in a provisional finding the commission said that BSkyB did restrict competition because of its dominance of the U.K. pay TV movie market, leading to higher prices and reduced choice.

The regulator said it welcomed the launch of Sky Movies on Now TV, the satcaster’s internet TV and entertainment service.