Companies pull satellite TV from majority of their pubs
Pub companies are pulling Sky out of a majority of their outlets over the summer because they claim the sport offered is not worth the high cost of running the system.
Bass Leisure Retail, Punch Retail and Scottish and Newcastle Retail are among the groups that have chosen to withdraw Sky from pubs over the summer.
Bass Spokesman Bob Cartwright said: "We have pulled Sky out of about 80 per cent of the 725 outlets that did have it because the only attractive sport all summer is the British Lions tour and those matches are on at 10am in the morning. There's no football, which is the major pull and with the costs involved being so high we thought it better to take it out of some pubs."
Mr Cartwright said since 1993 a majority of Bass pubs had seen Sky charges increase from £25 to £870 a month.
"Those charges do not make it worth keeping Sky in the pubs over the summer," he said.
Punch Retail could not confirm exactly how many pubs had withdrawn their Sky subscriptions but a spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we have agreed with Sky to remove Sky TV from some selected outlets during the summer period. However, we are planning to reconnect the service later on in the year."
Scottish and Newcastle Retail said it was reviewing its use of Sky on an individual pub basis. A spokesman confirmed: "We will only retain it in those outlets where customer demand justifies the high cost."
Sky operates under a monthly contract scheme which means businesses only have to give 30 days notice to unsubscribe, although they do face a reconnection charge. Pub companies believe paying this charge is worth the savings they will make by withdrawing Sky from certain outlets over the summer.
The Publican Newspaper's Market Report 2000 showed that nearly two thirds of pubs had satellite television, but most licensees were grudging subscribers resenting the high costs involved but acknowledging the asset it could be to their business.
Nobody from Sky was available for comment.Meanwhile new digital sports channel ITVDigital is making good progress prior to its launch later this summer.
Spokesman Andrew Marre said: "It's all going very well. Brewers and pub companies are showing a great deal of interest."
The Office of Fair Trading, which is investigating Sky's domination of the market, has extended its enquiry until September. Sky could be fined tens of millions of pounds or face being broken up if it is found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour.