Two of Britain’s terrestrial broadcasters have asked the government to split Murdoch-controlled satellite operator BSkyB into two separate businesses.

During the consultation process relating to forthcoming communications legislation, the British Broadcasting Corporation and Channel 4 called for Sky’s distribution operations to be detached from its content business.

Britain’s number one digital operator, it is claimed, has abused its position by undercutting rivals in charging consumers for its services, while demanding overly high payments from other content providers for use of its distribution system.

BSkyB is under investigation by the Office of Fair Trading, which warned in December it would rule against the operator [WAMN: 18-Dec-01].

Channel 4 argued that the situation had changed from the early days of pay-TV, when no restrictions were put on platform ownership. “Today, with a much larger and more mature market, ownership limits should be seriously considered.”

Meanwhile, the BBC contended that ownership of distribution and content provided “the greatest incentives for misusing a gatekeeping position to limit third-party content providers' abilities to access audience, and vice versa.”

News source: BrandRepublic (UK)