Sky scores victory in BT Sport advertising spat

BSKyB has been handed a victory in its long-running battle with BT after the media watchdog ruled it was right to refuse to broadcast BT Sport ads on its own sports channels.  

BT Sport ad

In a ruling announced today (20 June), Ofcom says Sky has the right to protect its brand and was not unduly discriminating against its rival.

BT’s complaint was lodged in April after Sky Media refused to broadcast a TV ad campaign media agency Maxus was attempting to book on Sky Sports for its client BT Sport. 

In its ruling, Ofcom says there is “wide availability” on other commercial channels for BT to target sports fans and that in prohibiting BT Sport ads on its channels Sky was “pursuing a legitimate commercial interest”.

A spokesman for Sky says: “We are pleased that Ofcom has confirmed that we are acting entirely reasonably in declining to advertise a direct competitor on Sky Sports. As we said at the time, BT’s demands are a bit like Tesco expecting to advertise inside Sainsbury’s.”

He adds it is “disappointing” BT has “again gone down the regulatory road”. This despite the fact the Ofcom decision comes a week after it emerged Sky had lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority, alleging BT Sport’s “free” claim in its multi-million ad campaign for BT Sport was “misleading” because it fails to acknowledge there are additional costs involved in becoming a BT Sports subscriber.

Earlier this week BT complained to Ofcom over Sky’s refusal to wholesale Sky Sports 1 and 2 to YouView.

Referencing the complaint and responding to the ruling on ad placement, a BT spokeswoman says: “With regulation you win some and you lose some. Whilst this decision has gone against us, we are delighted that Ofcom is going to investigate Sky over their refusal to supply us with Sky Sports on Youview. That is a far bigger issue for us than their refusal to show our ads so this has been a good week for BT in terms of regulation.”

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