BSkyB cleared in sports advertising spat with rival BT

LONDON Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:38am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Pay television company BSkyB scored a victory over rival BT on Thursday when British regulator Ofcom dismissed a complaint over Sky's refusal to carry advertising for BT's new sports TV channels.

BT has invested around 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) to move into a market for televised sports in Britain which BSkyB has dominated for two decades.

BT is offering its sports channels, to be launched in August, free to its broadband subscribers. BSkyB has hit back with an offer of free broadband to sports channel subscribers in what is shaping up as a heavyweight clash between the pay TV company and former state telco.

Ofcom ruled on Thursday that BSkyB had not unduly discriminated against BT by refusing to screen its ads on Sky's own sports channels. BT had argued it would have to spend more to reach its target audience if it could not advertise on Sky.

The regulator will have to referee another dispute between the two companies after a complaint by BT over the terms on which Sky is offering sports channels to BT's YouView Platform.

BT has bought the UK rights to show 38 English Premier League soccer matches per season from August and will also screen Premiership rugby. BSkyB has the rights to 116 Premier League matches, as well as other sports including English test cricket and Formula One motor racing.

(Reporting by Keith Weir, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)