• Cyril McAree

Hospitality Ulster Calls for Inquiry Into Sky TV Pricing Practices For NI Pubs

Hospitality Ulster is calling for a full investigation by Westminsters’ Northern Ireland Affairs Committee into Sky TV’s pricing practices for pubs in Northern Ireland, saying the company is operating an unfair regime which puts pubs in NI at a disadvantage from their counterparts in the rest of the UK. Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive, Colin Neill, made the call as he met a delegation of Northern Ireland MPs at Westminster today (July 19) to discuss the needs of the hospitality sector in NI and how it can be supported by government policy.

``It is outrageous that pubs in Northern Ireland are treated differently than their counterparts in GB, with Sky TV operating two pricing policies, with a separate UK and Northern Ireland pricing policy. This policy excludes NI pubs from discounts of up to 30 percent that their counterparts in the rest of the UK can avail of,’’ said Colin Neill. ``In the rest of the UK pubs are offered discounts of up to 30 percent if they are based outside centres of population and also if they sell food. It is totally unacceptable for Sky TV to price NI differently and they need to come clean with a transparent pricing policy for all parts of the UK”``Pubs here are already contending with soaring Sky TV bills as the company continues to put up prices to fund the increased costs of its sports rights deals.``This practice needs to end. We need transparency and fair play.’’

MP for East Antrim, Sammy Wilson, said it is unacceptable that SKY can treat one region of the UK differently from another.

``We need a level playing field from SKY. Northern Ireland is as much part of the UK as England, Scotland or Wales, so it makes no sense whatsoever that it should be treated any differently. ``The Murdock bid to take over Sky TV is already under investigation by Westminster and I intend to make sure their NI pricing policy is also investigated. It’s time for Sky TV to stop abusing their power to discriminate against businesses in Northern Ireland.

The NI Hospitality Sector is a very important part of the Northern Ireland economy and continues to grow, sustaining more than 60,000 jobs '`This is a situation that can’t be allowed to continue.’’

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