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Ofcom fights back against Sky criticism

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Ofcom fights back against Sky criticism
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards has defended the regulator's pay TV investigation following staunch criticism from Sky.

At a culture select committee hearing today, Richards said that Ofcom is working to a "very clear framework" in its review. He added that Sky may be "uncomfortable" with the investigation because it is "part" of the pay TV industry, reports The Guardian.

"We found in this area quite an interesting development, that it's often the case that people observe or criticise us for being over-regulated," he said.

"If you look at some of these cases you often find it's a specific response to an area of activity. We know full well Sky and [Sky chairman] Mr Murdoch are uncomfortable about our investigation into pay TV because Sky is part of it."

In its consultation, Ofcom is proposing to force Sky to free up access to its subscription video-on-demand movies and FA Premier League TV rights at significantly cheaper prices.

Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said in September that the consultation threatens the "virtuous circle of risk and reward" by making it easy for rival operators to make a profit at Sky's expense.

In August, James Murdoch also used his MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival to decry the "astonishing" level of regulation imposed on Sky.

However, Richards stressed that Ofcom did not instigate the review as it was a joint Virgin Media, BT, Top Up TV and Setanta complaint in 2007 which kicked the process off.

He also said that Sky is not so concerned about the broadband market, in which the firm has developed a "strong position" under heavy regulation. Ofcom's pay TV consultation will reach a firm verdict in March 2010.

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