Rivals call on government to
break up BSkyB
LONDON - The BBC and Channel 4 have called on the government to break up BSkyB and separate its satellite TV content business from its satellite distribution.
The broadcasters made the call in response to the government's consultation on the UK's media ownership laws, in preparation for the government's upcoming communications bill, scheduled to be published in the next few months.
Sky has been criticised for charging consumers too little to access its services, undercutting other suppliers, and for charging other content providers too much for using the Sky delivery system.
Any move to break up Rupert Murdoch's UK satellite giant would also affect the operations of ITV Digital, Telewest and NTL.
Channel 4 is arguing that when cable television started out, there were no limits put on the ownership of platforms. However, it says, "today, with a much larger and more mature market, ownership limits should be seriously considered".
Meanwhile, the BBC said that when companies had control of both platform and content, there arose what it described as "the greatest incentives for misusing a gatekeeping position to limit third-party content providers' abilities to access audience, and vice versa".
BSkyB has already been investigated by the Office of Fair Trading over its digital television practices and faces a potential lawsuit from rivals Granada and Carlton, which own ITV Digital. Oftel is also investigating what Sky charges other channels to be carried on its platforms.
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