BT says minded to appeal BSkyB's sport ruling

BARCELONA Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:00pm EST

BARCELONA Nov 14 (Reuters) - Britain's BT Group Plc is likely to appeal against a court ruling that cleared rival pay-TV group BSkyB to charge higher wholesale costs for access to its sought-after sports content, BT's chief executive said.

Speaking on Wednesday at a technology, media and telecoms conference organised by investment bank Morgan Stanley, BT's Ian Livingston said he could not understand the ruling by Britain's Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in August to lift pricing restrictions placed on BSkyB.

"I think we are certainly minded to appeal," Livingston told the conference in Barcelona. "We think it's a very poor judgement."

The dispute dates back to 2010 when media regulator Ofcom ordered BSkyB to reduce the amount it charged competitors, such as Virgin Media Inc and BT, for its two most important Sky Sports channels, in a move designed to increase market competition.

After BSkyB appealed against the ruling, the difference between both sets of prices were paid into an escrow account by BT, Virgin Media and Top-UP TV, with the proceeds to be distributed after the case is resolved.

The CAT ruled in August in BSkyB's favour. A deadline for any appeal is Nov. 26.

"We do not need to make a final decision until the deadline for it but we are minded to appeal, yes," Livingston said.

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