Belfast Telegraph

BT signs up Sky Sports channels in time for new season

By Graeme Evans

BT is to offer more live Premier League football next season after it signed a contract with BSkyB for two Sky Sports channels.

The deal follows the communications regulator's ruling that BSkyB must sell its premium sports content to rivals at regulated prices. BT said its on-demand digital TV customers would be able to view subscription channels Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 from August 1, in time for the new football season.

The price to BT Vision customers will be announced in the next few days, but BT has already pledged to undercut its rival by pricing a package featuring the two Sky channels and the ESPN channel — which also covers Premier League football — at less than £20 a month.

The company currently has 467,000 BT Vision subscribers.

BSkyB is taking legal action over appealing the Ofcom ruling although in the meantime it has agreed to sell the channels at the price it currently charges Virgin Media, its only wholesale customer.

The difference between this and the recommended Ofcom price will be held in a special account until the outcome of the full hearing of BSkyB's appeal.

Consumer groups have said Ofcom's intervention meant more choice and lower prices for viewers, but sporting bodies reacted furiously to a potential funding cut.

Ofcom's announcement followed a three-year probe into the industry after concerns were raised by BT, Virgin Media, TopUp TV and Setanta, which has since gone bust.

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