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Virgin Media critical with Murdoch on viewer choice

# 17 February 2007, 14:45 by Cable Forum

The Telegraph reports that Virgin Media has attacked Murdoch, after ofcom flagged up concerns over BSkyb’s proposals to launch a pay-TV service on digital terrestrial television. Ofcom has announced a consultation about Murdoch’s plans to introduce a four-channel pay-TV service, that would see offerings of Hollywood movies and Premiership football, all via a normal TV aerial and a new type of Set-top-box.

Sky’s plans also see channels such as Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three being removed from the Freeview platform.

According to Industry experts, this move could seriously threaten Freeview and Irish pay TV group Setanta, which also won two packages of football rights. The two packages out of six that was available in last years auction, will allow the rights to screen a limited amount of premiership football matches.

Ofcom states it would need to examine if Sky’s plans for the new service would “unacceptably diminish the appeal” of Freeview.

A Virgin Media spokesman told The Telegraph:

Like its recent swoop on ITV, this shows how determined the Murdochs are to extend their grip on the pay TV market and suppress competition from competing platforms, even if this means less choice for consumers.

BSkyb have denied such claims. A BSkyb spokesman says:

“What Ofcom is doing is clarifying the approval process. There’s nothing in the Ofcom statement that we don’t know about.

We believe our proposals represent an increase in choice for consumers.”

Earlier this week, saw Virgin Media – take on its rival by stating it could offer an all-in-one Sky sports package that saw 39 other digital TV channels bundled together, cheaper than what Sky could. Sky has however disputed this by stating that switching to their services would save cable customers hundreds of pounds a year.

Sky’s arrogance towards Virgin Media is becoming increasingly obvious, you only have to look at most of their adverts, they are appearing to snub the cable groups recent rebrand by referring to their rival as “ntl/Virgin” and not “Virgin Media” which is what it is suppose to be now.

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