Ofcom has just announced its decision to remove the regulation requiring Sky to offer Sky Sports on a wholesale basis. Sky Sports on BT YouView is the only supply arrangement for Sky Sports under Ofcom's wholesale must-offer regulation (Virgin Media's carriage of Sky Sports is different and unaffected by this ruling). Ofcom says that it
"expects all providers to engage willingly, constructively and in a timely manner to ensure sports continues to be made widely available to viewers. Ofcom continues to monitor the pay TV market closely. Should evidence emerge of practices which we consider to be prejudicial to fair and effective competition, we will quickly reassess the need for regulation."In other words Ofcom is expecting Sky to play fair (stop sniggering at the back of the class, Murdoch Jnr) and give BT it's Sports channels at a commercially sensible price. That's the same BT Sky has been at loggerheads with for the last few years over sports rights. It doesn't take a genius to see that all the power is now in Sky's hands, who can fall into a convenient commercial dispute with BT that would remove Sky Sports from the BT service whilst everyone waits for Ofcom to "quickly reassess the need for regulation". Ofcom has never done anything "quickly", and those months, possibly years, could kill BT as an option for sports fans stone dead.
Oh, and don't expect the Government to intervene: it's too busy dismantling the BBC and Channel 4 for Rupert to pay attention to this one.