LONDON - BSkyB has been told it must accept advertising from rival ITV Digital, which could see it carrying ads for rival sports channel ITV Sport on its Sky Sports channels.
The Independent Television Commission ruled that the broadcaster must accept ads for ITV Digital after Sky complained about 11 of its rival's ads, which it thought were "ambiguous and unfair". The ads included claims that ITV Sport carried more football than any other sport channel.
The TV watchdog banned eight of the 11 ads, but ordered BSkyB to broadcast the remaining three. This could see ITV Sport's current campaign featuring Nick Hancock being broadcast on the Sky Sports channels.
ITV Digital said it was in talks with Sky about the ads, even though they have yet to agree a carriage deal for ITV Sport on Sky Digital.
Reports earlier this year suggested that talks had reached a deadlock between the two because of differences among ITV Digital executives over whether to keep the channel off Sky, with the aim of using the channel as a way of luring customers to the digital terrestrial platform.
Some have argued this strategy is failing ITV Sport and compare it to a similar strategy that saw ITV1 kept off the Sky platform until a deal was signed last November.
A carriage deal with Sky could benefit ITV Sport, which has just 201,600 subscribers, excluding those who take it through NTL. Sky has 5.7m subscribers, which would give ITV far wider coverage and allow it to generate more advertising revenue.
A carriage deal is thought to have been tabled in January, but ITV Digital is reported to have rejected it because it deemed the £4m-a-year charge too high. ITV Digital then asked BSkyB for £80m for ITV Sport to become part of the Sky package.
However, it is understood that BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball has not felt under pressure to do a deal and the talks have stalled.
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