The Independent Television Commission is standing firm on its
decision to abolish minimum carriage requirements on pay-TV channels,
despite mounting legal threats from cable companies outraged by the
Flextech is the first company to have taken formal legal action. It is
seeking a judicial review from the High Court to re-examine the
decision, arguing that the ITC acted outside its legal authority by
interfering with existing contracts. It is also alleging that ’the ITC
did not consult sufficiently on the definition of minimum carriage
Flextech is also claiming that, under the Broadcasting Act 1990, the
ITC’s remit is to ensure fair and effective competition between
providers of television programme services, not to regulate the supply
terms to retailers or consumers.
Meanwhile, the Sci-Fi Channel Europe is also planing legal action.
Because of this, and Flextech’s action, Viacom - which owns Nickleodeon
and MTV - said its own involvement will not be necessary.
An ITC spokesperson said: ’We are confident we came to the correct
decision within our powers. They can’t question the decision and we will
oppose them strongly.’
The High Court is unlikely to grant Flextech a judicial review for at
least a fortnight. If it then decides the cable company has a case,
further action could take between one and four months to reach a
The ITC confirmed that even if the High Court finds against it, there
will be no changes to its rulings until it knows whether it can
The ITC decided in late June to call an end to bundling, the process by
which cable customers are forced to take a package of channels, rather
than being free to subscribe on an a la carte basis.