Ofcom may push to open pay-TV market

Media regulator could change rules to allow premium content to be broadcast by terrestrial providers

Ofcom, whose report on the pay-TV market is expected this week, may demand that the pay-TV giant BSkyB put its top channels, including Premium League Football, on Freeview and offer them to competitors at a regulated wholesale price. The media regulator is understood to be pushing BSkyB to make available the key channels to rivals by 1 July before the start of the next football season.

The ruling would mean that homes with regular aerials can get Sky Sports or Sky Movies channels without the need to purchase a dish or a subscription to a Sky package. Ofcom is understood to have begun its investigation into the pay-TV market three years ago following complaints from BSkyB's rivals such as British Telecom, Virgin Media and top-Up TV.

Ofcom may also give a nod to BSkyB to go ahead with Picnic, a service planned to sell a basic bundle of channels with broadband and home-phone subscriptions through a new generation of Freeview set-top boxes. Picnic was earlier shelved by the broadcaster because it was not formally approved by the telecom watchdog.