BT planning to buy EPSN from Disney: what does that say about UK Broadband Policy?

This morning I received a note from my stockbroker relaying the FT report that BT is in talks with Disney’s ESPN unit to acquire its UK broadcast rights, as ESPN seeks to exit the market. This would include live rights for certain FA Cup, Bundesliga and Europa League football matches, which would supplement its Premier League rights package of 32 matches. ESPN also holds a number of rights for Major League Baseball and the NHL ice hockey league. The note added that given “BSkyB holds a number of significant sports rights packages until around 2016, a successful acquisition of ESPN’s rights by BT is not expected to significantly improve its competitive position.”

What is it that BT knows that Disney does not? Or is that BT management finds running a UK based broadband utility too unprofitable or boring and would prefer to invest shareholders funds on trying to turn round a struggling content business? 

If so, why is it fighting so hard to prevent others, from local community groups to Birmingham Council, from doing the boring grunt work of laying fibre?


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