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Netflix and Lovefilm join Sky Movies monopoly probe

The Competition Commission is adding Lovefilm and Netflix to an investigation of whether Sky has a pay-TV movie monopoly.

Sky has had a reprieve from being forced to give up its grip on the latest movies. The Competition Commission is adding online movie streaming services Lovefilm and Netflix to its investigation of the market for movies on pay TV, potentially leading the way for a reversal of its provisional findings that Sky's exclusive film rights agreements were anti-competitive.

The investigation will now include on-demand video streaming of movies from services like Netflix and Lovefilm, to see if they provide a credible alternative to Sky Movies and other paid TV services. If the investigation concludes that other services do provide a decent choice for viewers, Sky could get a permanent reprieve from the prior decision to wipe out the advantage it currently holds over rivals like Virgin Media.

BSkyB has deals with six major Hollywood studios -- 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros -- to show new movies when they first arrive on TV. That stranglehold on the first pay-TV slot makes Sky the only game in town for renting most major new Hollywood movies, leaving you to wait even longer to see the latest hits if you don't have access.

The Competition Commission previously found that that was anti-competitive and needed to be taken apart to allow other services to compete. A final decision has now been put off until after July.

Sky argues that there is plenty of choice when you take online services into account, and with the arrival of Netflix in January, it seems the competition watchdog agrees. Lovefilm and Netflix both have deals for exclusive movies and TV, but at nowhere near the scale of Sky Movies.

Sky is preparing its own online video-on-demand subscription service, the first time ever you'll be able to get a Sky package without a dish.

While Netflix and Lovefilm have agreements in place that provide subscribers with content that is exclusive to their respective services, I'm unimpressed with the choice of content with either. So I'd welcome a more open movie market. Click here for our comparison of Netflix and Lovefilm.

Is Sky the only choice for movie lovers? Should Sky Movies be forced to relinquish new movies to Virgin Media, Netflix and Lovefilm? Tell me where you watch your movies and whether you'd like things to change, down there in the comments or over on our Facebook page.