Ofcom says it will be making a final decision early next year on whether Sky needs to notify its satellite pay TV customers that their minimum contract period has ended.
Under rules introduced in February 2020, providers of pay TV, broadband, mobile and home phone services must notify consumers when their contract period is up. Specifically, the rules apply to all providers of “electronic communications services”.
However, Sky argued that its standalone satellite pay TV service does not count as an “electronic communications service”. As a result, Ofcom says it has not complied with rules. It says Sky has failed to inform customers that their contract has ended.
Accepting a “genuine difference of opinion”, Ofcom launched an investigation to examine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that Sky has failed to comply with its obligations. In May 2021, the regulator confirmed it did find grounds to believe Sky has failed to comply. Sky was offered an opportunity to make representations before Ofcom made a final decision.
Ofcom says it is now reviewing those representations with a view to reach a final decision next year. If Sky loses its case, it will be obligated to write to its satellite TV subscribers when they reach the end of their minimum contract period.
What’s the issue?
Pay TV, mobile, broadband and home phone providers have face criticism in the past for making it difficult for consumers.
It is often easier to sign up as a new customer and upgrade packages than it is to review, downgrade or cancel services. When changing packages, consumers may unwittingly sign-up to a new contract period, buried in the small print. At the same time, some bundled services may have different contract lengths. Consumer rights organisations say it’s important that consumers know when they can leave penalty-free. Knowing that their contract up also allows consumers to shop around for better deals or seek a retention deal.