Belfast Telegraph

Pub sector demands probe into 'unfair regime' at Sky

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland's pub industry is calling for an investigation into Sky TV pricing in bars. Hospitality Ulster wants a probe by Westminster's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee into what it claims is an "unfair regime" which puts Northern Ireland at "a disadvantage from their counterparts in the rest of the UK".

"It is outrageous that pubs in Northern Ireland are treated differently than their counterparts in GB, with Sky TV operating two pricing policies, with a separate UK and Northern Ireland pricing policy," Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said.

"This policy excludes Northern Ireland pubs from discounts of up to 30% that their counterparts in the rest of the UK can avail of. In the rest of the UK, pubs are offered discounts of up to 30% if they are based outside centres of population and also if they sell food. It is totally unacceptable for Sky TV to price Northern Ireland differently and they need to come clean with a transparent pricing policy for all parts of the UK.

"Pubs here are already contending with soaring Sky TV bills as the company continues to put up prices to fund the increased costs of its sports rights deals."

Mr Neill met with DUP MP for East Antrim, Sammy Wilson, to raise concerns over the pricing.

"We need a level playing field from Sky. Northern Ireland is as much part of the UK as England, Scotland or Wales, so it makes no sense whatsoever that it should be treated any differently," Mr Wilson said.

He added: "The Northern Ireland hospitality sector is a very important part of the Northern Ireland economy and continues to grow, sustaining more than 60,000 jobs."

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