Virgin Media has begun legal action against British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Virgin Media, formed by the three-way merger of Virgin Mobile and cable operators ntl and Telewest, is reported to have filed proceedings in the High Court under the UK’s Competition Act and the European Commission treaty, which prohibit a company from abusing its dominant position. The company said it was resorting to legal action after Sky rejected an offer to solve the dispute through arbitration by an independent expert.
Virgin stopped airing basic BSkyB channels last month after it failed to reach agreement with the satellite broadcaster on carriage fees. As a result Virgin Media subscribers lost access to popular programmes such as ‘Lost,’ ‘24,’ and ‘The Simpsons’. ‘This dispute is one very specific example of how UK consumers are being denied the benefits of a diverse, dynamic and competitive pay-TV market,’ said Virgin Media CEO Steve Burch. ‘Litigation is obviously a serious step and a last resort but we are determined to have these issues resolved as quickly and fairly as possible,’ he added.