Sky has reversed its decision not to allow customers to pause subscription during the coronavirus outbreak.
The broadcaster announced the change after their sports broadcast schedule was drastically reduced due to fears over the spread of the disease.
Many customers have been trying to suspend their paid subscriptions to sport TV packages since the news that dozens of competitions across a range of sports have been postponed because of Covid-19.
Among the sports scheduled to be shown on Sky Sports, every Premier League match has been suspended until next month, and the England cricket team’s planned tour to Sri Lanka has been cancelled.
‘You will not be charged a fee’
Sky had initially said that customers would have to pay a hefty penalty if they wanted to cancel their subscriptions before the contract had ended.
But in a statement on Tuesday (17 March), the company said: "While we expect that many of the recently postponed sports events will eventually go ahead, if you wish to pause your sports subscription in the meantime you will not be charged a fee to do so or be held to any notice period.
"Meanwhile we continue to provide high quality content across all of our 11 sports channels."
How do I pause my subscription?
Unfortunately, Sky said that customers will not be able to pause their subscriptions online. Instead, people who want to suspend their payments will need to call the company directly, on 0800 151 2747.
But demand for the phone centre is reported to be extremely high, with many frustrated customers complaining of lengthy waits before getting through, and others saying they received a recorded message telling them the call centre was closed.
What else is Sky doing in response to coronavirus?
The company also announced some changes to help people forced to stay inside while self-isolating.
It said it would make Sky Go Extra, which allows its customers to watch different Sky channels on three separate screens simultaneously, would be made free.
It will also make a range of movies available through the Sky Store on the same day as their global premiers, allowing viewers to see new films at home while cinemas are closed. The films include Emma, The Invisible Man, and The Hunt - all of which have just been released.
What about BT Sport?
Unlike Sky, BT have so far refused to relax rules around cancellation fees for their subscriptions.
In a statement, the company said: “We apologise to customers about the changes to the BT Sport schedule this month due to the impact of Covid-19.
“The situation is evolving rapidly and we are working with the leagues to continue to broadcast live sport wherever possible and broadcast games when they are rescheduled over the coming months.
“We will continue to broadcast a wide range of BT Sport content including films and documentaries and we will update our customers as we have a clearer view of the remainder of the season.”
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
Government adviceAs of the 12 March the Government has moved into the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus. Advice is that anyone with a continuous cough or high temperature should self-isolate for seven days. People over 70 have been advised not to go on cruises and schools advised to cancel trips abroad, though schools remain open.
Should I avoid public places?Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.
What should I do if I feel unwell?Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
When to call NHS 111NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS