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Sky Blast ex-Ofcom Boss Over Sports Rights

Premier League on BT

Sky have reignited the argument with Ofcom after former boss Ed Richards claimed to feel 'vindicated' in an interview after the courts ruled that Sky must offer their Sports channels on other services, as Ofcom originally stated. Following that ruling, Sky decided to take the battle to the courts. Millions of pounds and eight years later, Sky were found wrong and were forced to offer their Sky Sports channels on the likes of BT at reduced wholesale prices.That ruling has weakened Sky's position in the pay-TV market and diluted the impressive offering that Sky have for consumers. Now there only remains Sky Atlantic which the company can offer as a channel that nobody else can, and Sky are clearly displeased with that situation.

In an interview late last month, Ed Richards took time to claim that Sky's actions in the case had been "unhelpful" and that he regrets having "spent years and years in court and millions and millions of pounds in a court battle which takes too long, costs too much and I don’t think is particularly helpful.” Later in the interview he also claimed to feel "vindicated" by the results of the trail and It's those comments that Sky have taken particular umbrage to. Mr Graham Williams, group director of corporate affairs at the newly minted Sky has responded in a short blog post, stating that "After eight years running Ofcom, Ed Richards could be forgiven for being a little demob happy as he reflects on his time as chief executive (29 December). However, his memory is mistaken if he feels "vindicated" in relation to the long-running legal case over Ofcom's decision to force Sky to supply certain sports channels at prices set by the regulator."

Those are particularly damaging words from Mr Williams, who goes on to state "At this time, the final outcome is yet to be determined and Ofcom's core argument in favour of intervention has been found in court to be without foundation, the regulator having misinterpreted evidence to a significant extent. Contrary to what Mr Richards appears to suggest, that ruling has not been overturned in subsequent hearings. While it may be "unhelpful" in his eyes for Ofcom decisions to be subject to appeal, it is hardly surprising that companies should seek independent judicial scrutiny when they believe, as Sky does in this case and as the court has confirmed, that the regulator has made serious mistakes.".

It's a damning response, but Sky are still being forced to offer their channels to other services. Meanwhile, if they did manage to withdraw their channels, they'd be inundated with complaints to the Sky customer service line wondering where their sports package has gone. It's far from an ideal situation for Sky and not one which is likely to be remedied by the comments made by Mr Williams today.

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