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Sky warned about end-of-contract notification breach

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Ofcom has found there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that Sky may have broken consumer protection rules regarding its treatment of pay TV customers when they come to the end of their contract.

Ofcom introduced new rules last year which require phone, broadband and pay-TV providers to warn customers when their contract is nearly at an end.

This was to prevent them overpaying for services, as research has found that out-of-contract broadband customers could save money by negotiating a new deal or switching providers.

However, Sky and Ofcom have been arguing over the rules. Under the Ofcom rules, it states that end-of-contract notifications must be sent to customers of all “public electronic communications services, other than machine-to-machine transmission services”.

Ofcom said that as Sky is a provider of pay-TV services transmitted by a satellite network, it provides an electronic communications service and must therefore comply with the rules. But Sky reckons its standalone pay-TV service don’t fall under the definition of an electronic communications service and is therefore exempt from the notification rules.

Ofcom announced in December that it would investigate whether Sky has been breaching the rules – and its initial findings suggest Sky is at fault. The regulator has issued a notification to Sky under section 96A of the Communications Act 2003.

Sky now has the opportunity to make representations to Ofcom on the matters contained in the notification before Ofcom makes a final decision.

Ernest Doku, tech expert at Uswitch.com, says: “Sky and Ofcom have been at loggerheads for more than a year about whether pay TV services have to comply with rules regarding end-of-contract notifications.

“End-of-contract notifications are meant to put more power in the hands of consumers and help make informed decisions about whether their current plan is the best value for them. After an investigation, Ofcom has provisionally found that pay TV is covered by these regulations, and that Sky may have been breaking the rules for a year by not providing customers with these notices.

“A final ruling won’t be made until the end of the summer, but the decision could affect thousands of consumers who use pay-TV services like Sky’s. In the meantime, don’t wait for an end-of-contract letter to drop through your front door if you know you are out of contract. Get online now and start researching what deals are available, even if they are with your current provider.”