9 Oct 2013

Sky to keep doing deals with phone companies

7:33 am on 9 October 2013

Sky TV will continue to do content deals with phone companies despite a Commerce Commission warning that it is being monitored for breaches of competition law.

After an 18-month investigation, the commission said there were historical breaches of competition law in the pay TV operator's agreements with internet service providers (ISPs), such as Telecom and Vodafone, over the resale of its content.

However, the commission said the television market had changed dramatically during the investigation, reducing the chances of similar behaviour in the future.

The watchdog said it would continue to monitor Sky TV and would take it to court if there was evidence of further breaches.

But Sky TV chief executive John Fellett said he did not believe Sky's contracts breached any law, and that it would never knowingly breach one.

The company's contracts with ISPs had always been flexible and had not been changed as a result of the investigation.

"So often you hear reports that Sky has these restrictive arrangements with these partners but keep in mind those agreements allowed Telecom to do a deal with TiVo or Coliseum, with the English Premier League, so it's hard to imagine anyone could define those as restrictive," Mr Fellett said.

The company was not concerned the Commerce Commission was monitoring it and would continue to do content deals with phone companies.

"Again, we've never considered that we breached anything. We've always played with a straight hand and we're quite open and upfront with all of our partners on these arrangements," he said.

Commerce Commission chairman Mark Berry while it would continue monitoring Sky, such cases could take several years, cost several million dollars and finish in an era which was vastly different to the time when the breach occurred.

"... these matters do take time and there are appeal rights, and that typically is what would be likely to happen in relation to an historic breach claim," Mr Berry said.

The commission was in a position to prosecute should Sky refuse to grant any future exemption "and it would be other forward-looking forms of relief that we would pursue", he said.