BSkyB's stranglehold on pay-TV film rights in the UK has come under threat after competition watchdog the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said on Monday (Dec 17) it is to rule that the satellite broadcaster has breached competition laws.

The investigation said that the difference between the prices BSkyB charges its customers and companies serving the rest of the market may not be enough to allow those companies to make a "normal profit". The investigation, which centres on BSkyB's premium sports and film channels, is expected to reach a final decision by the middle of next year.

While some observers had expected the OFT to adopt an even tougher stance, a decision that BSkyB's prices are anti-competitive could lead to legal action from rivals and a fine of up to 10% of local turnover - around $291.7m (£200m).

BSkyB denied any breach of competition law and said it welcomed its first opportunity to put its case to the regulator. "The OFT's announcement is not a final decision and merely indicates that it has moved to the next stage in a process that has lasted nearly two years," Sky said.