Ofcom has launched a new consultation over its pay-TV 'wholesale must-offer' remedy, which requires Sky to offer its Sky Sports platform to rival operators.
The media regulator is seeking to determine whether - in the light of recent market developments, such as the arrival of BT Sport - this regulatory measure remains appropriate.
Back in 2010, Ofcom imposed an obligation on Sky to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 to other TV providers, in order to promote fair and effective competition.
The regulator argued that by holding the exclusive rights to premium content - such as Barclays Premier League football - Sky's offering was likely to appeal to a sizeable proportion of high-value customers. And unless Sky Sports was available on alternative platforms, such as Virgin Media TV and BT TV, the firm would have an unfair advantage in the market.
Ofcom is now reviewing the 'wholesale must-offer' obligation, in light of the wider availability of sports content on competing retail services - including BT Sport - and the arrival of ‘over-the-top’ content providers such as Netflix.
The regulator suggested that the more common bundling of pay-TV with other communication services - such as broadband, home phone and mobile - also needs to be considered.
"Given Sky’s continued strong market position, Ofcom is seeking views on its assessment that if there was limited distribution by Sky of its key sports content, competition between pay-TV retailers may be harmed," it stated.
Ofcom said it is inviting opinions from the industry over whether Sky - and now BT, in light of BT Sport's growing portfolio of TV rights - may be incentivised to limit distribution of its content.
"Ofcom recognises that the pay-TV sector is evolving rapidly and any assessment is affected by continuing developments in the market," the regulator added.
It said these will be taken into account - in particular the outcome of the next Barclays Premier League TV rights auction. Sky and BT are expected to do battle for the lion's share of live top-flight football rights.
The consultation is open for responses from industry stakeholders until February 27th 2015.