In Brief

What will Sky Sports ruling mean for you?

Non-Sky subscribers could be denied access to pay-for channels – but costs for BT Sport could also fall

Sky will no longer have to offer its main two paid-for sports channels to rivals at a discounted 'wholesale' rate, regulator Ofcom has ruled.

In a decision that could have implications for the cost of watching live sport across rival broadcasters, the watchdog has scrapped the 'wholesale must offer' obligation it first introduced in 2010. Sky and BT Sport have been locked in a bitter row since then – and this could continue as BT said it would consider its "legal options" in the wake of the ruling.

Ofcom said the market was now "more competitive than when the rule were imposed", the Daily Telegraph reports.

Rival BT Sport has spent £2bn to become a competitor to Sky Sports. It has secured the rights to a host of elite sports, including a share of Premier League football matches that were once a Sky Sports monopoly, as well as the exclusive rights to screen Champions League matches. This summer it even acquired the next Ashes cricket series, which will be the first time Sky has not shown an England cricket overseas tour since 1990.

The regulator also noted that Sky provides the two channels covered by the ruling, Sky Sports 1 and 2, on its cheaper Now TV subscription service. Broadcast magazine says it is "now supplying sports widely on commercial terms outside of the regulation to competitors".

What it will mean

The deal will mean that subscription TV services such as BT and Virgin Media will need to agree commercial terms with Sky to offer the channels, which raises the prospect that costs could rise for customers or that BT viewers may not be able to watch them at all.

But Ofcom warned it stood ready to intervene again if competition breaks down, and that it expected the channels to be offered on fair commercial terms. Sky, for its part, said it has "always been… more than happy to make our channels available on other platforms".

There is also the chance that costs may come down for Sky subscribers wishing to watch BT Sport, which is currently available as a separate subscription. The Financial Times says the deal "may also strengthen Sky's hand in agreeing a deal to resell BT's own sports channels".

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