A price survey carried out by Fine Gael shows that customers in Ireland are paying more for Sky television than customers in the United Kingdom. Sky is the largest provider of multi-channel television in Ireland with more customers than UPC and other providers. Fine Gael Communications Spokesman Leo Varadkar TD has contacted British Sky Broadcasting for an explanation and is awaiting a reply. He also intends to make a complaint to the National Consumer Agency on the matter.
“Irish customers are paying up to 20% more than customers in the United Kingdom and are getting an inferior service.
“The cost of Sky’s Basic package is £19 (€22.80) in the United Kingdom against €23 in Ireland. However, the Sky basic package in the United Kingdom also includes 20Mb broadband and free evening and weekend calls. Irish consumers just get the TV channels.
“The cost of Sky’s Basic package with Sky Sports is £40 (€48) in the United Kingdom against €57 in Ireland. That means Irish customers pay 19% more. Again, British customers also get broadband and phone as part of their basic package.
“The cost of Sky’s Basic package with Sky Movies is £36 (€43.23) in the United Kingdom against €51 in Ireland which is 18% higher.
“The Basic Sky High Definition (HD) package is 9.1% more expensive in Ireland and the Sky HD Basic + sports and Sky HD Basic + movies are 20% and 19.4% more expensive respectively.
“In the United Kingdom there is no fee for customers who move to HD, but Irish customers have to pay €30 for the pleasure
“It is clear that Sky is imposing a ‘paddy premium’ on its Irish customers in the same way that supermarkets like Tesco did in the past. We should end this rip-off and give hard pressed Irish customers are break from these high charges. In the United Kingdom, Sky’s competitors Virgin TV and BT Vision are able to undercut Sky and offer Sky Sports and SKY Movies more cheaply than Sky itself. This is because the wholesale prices are regulated by OfCom. There is no regulation in Ireland. Also, there is more competition in the United Kingdom. In Ireland, Sky’s only real competitor is UPC which only serves cities and large towns.
“If Communications Minister Éamon Ryan had not made a total mess of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), Sky would be facing competition across Ireland from 2012. But this will not now happen due to failure of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and RTE to secure a commercial partner to provide Pay TV alongside RTE’s new digital service.
“No doubt Éamon Ryan will try to claim that multi-channel television in Ireland is cheaper than the United Kingdom when you adjust for ‘purchasing power parity’ in line with his laughable contention that electricity prices in Ireland are below the European average. This is fantasy and nonsense.
“I am calling on him to end the rip-off and protect Irish consumers by amending the Broadcasting Act to give the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) the power to regulate the multi-channel television market until it is truly competitive and give it the necessary power to force an agreement between RTENL and a commercial partner so that everyone can enjoy the full benefits of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).”
Purchasing Power Parity is an economic concept according to which prices are adjusted to reflect income disparities between countries. As Ireland has higher incomes than other countries, Éamon Ryan argues that this means that prices are effectively lower even though they are not in real terms.
SKY is the largest single provider of television in Ireland, followed by UPC (formerly NTL/Chorus). RTE NL provides television to about 25% of the population who do not have cable or a satellite dish and still receive their television by aerial. With the exception of a small number of MMDS companies, SKY has an effective monopoly on multi-channel pay TV outside of the major town and cities. Competition was expected with the advent of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) which should have enabled DTT customers all over the country to pay for BBC, Sky and other channels without having to get a dish or cable. This will not now happen and future DTT customers will only be able to get free-to-air Irish channels like RTE, TV3, TG4 and Euronews.