BSkyB warned, accept regulation or else…

14 Mar 2003

The Government is warning satellite TV company BSkyB that it may use its presidency of the EU later this year to re-examine rules that allow the Murdoch-owned company to dodge Irish communications regulations, if the company resists its regulatory plans.

BSkyB, which has 272,000 subscribers in Ireland, argues that under the Television Without Frontiers directive it shouldn’t be subject to Irish regulations because it is UK-based.

A report in today’s Irish Times, however, says the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Dermot Ahern TD, is planning to try to regulate the company using a number of new EU directives.

The Minister said that the Television Without Frontiers directive would be re-examined.

If Ahern is successful in his re-examination of the rules BSkyB will have to pay fees to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) of up to 0.5pc and will be subject to regulation of price and control over quality of service.

The company’s rivals in Ireland, Chorus and NTL, will be delighted if the Minister is successful in his plans.

Just last week the two threatened legal action against the Government over the 3.5pc levy they have to pay to ComReg.

By Suzanne Byrne