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BBC and ITV appeal to Ofcom over Sky pay-to-view plan

slydog

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Rivals unite to oust BSkyB from Freeview

By Andrew Murray-Watson
Published: 18 March 2007

The big guns of the British television industry are lining up to strip BSkyB of its stake in Freeview, the free-to-watch digital TV service led by chairman Tom Betts.

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are to tell Ofcom, the media regulator, that Sky should forfeit its shareholding in Freeview if it is allowed to replace its free channels on the digital platform with pay-to-view channels.

Sky wants to remove Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky 3 from Freeview and replace them with four pay-to-view alternatives. But to do so it needs Ofcom to approve a change in its Freeview broadcast licence. Sky will submit its application to Ofcom in the next few weeks.

An executive at one Freeview shareholder said: "If Sky doesn't have any free channels on Freeview, then clearly it will have little in common with other stakeholders in Freeview that support the principle that UK consumers should have access to as wide a range of free-to-view digital TV channels as possible." Sky declined to comment.

Ofcom could refuse Sky permission to alter its Freeview licence. In an announcement last month, the watchdog said it would consider whether the proposed change would "unacceptably diminish" the variation in the channel line-up on Freeview. It will also examine whether "a reduction in the current range of free-to-air channels would be compensated for by the proposed introduction of the new pay-television channels".

It added that it would be assessing "the effect of any change to existing licence conditions and/or the need to include any new licence conditions to ensure fair and effective competition for the benefit of consumers".

The united opposition to Sky's plans to ditch its free channels on Freeview is another sign of the escalating tensions between the satellite broadcaster and the other major UK broadcasters.

Sky is already engaged in a war of words with Virgin Media. The cable TV group stopped carrying Sky 1 and 2 after the satellite broadcaster demanded it pay more for the entertainment channels. Virgin claimed Sky was asking an unreasonable price. For its part, Sky said that Virgin should recognise the additional investment it had made in the channels.

Along with the Office of Fair Trading, Ofcom is also examining whether Sky should be permitted to keep the 17.9 per cent stake it has acquired in ITV. Virgin Media, whose largest single shareholder is Sir Richard Branson, claims the satellite broadcaster made the move in order to stop it making a bid for ITV.
 

magistral

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#2
I think that it's high time that Sky's attempts to monopolise broadcasting and communications in the UK was stopped. Though I doubt whether Ofcom has the b*lls to stand up to them !

Mike
:FRIGHT:
 

digidude

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#3
Broadcast Magazine reports today that the idea of a pay-TV Sky system using Freeview transmission frequencies is to be scrapped.

BSkyB has not yet applied to Ofcom to ask them to consult the public before allowing such a change to Freeview.

The publication reports that whilst Sky claim that they are "finalising our licence application", because Ofcom has launched an investigation into the UK Pay TV market (which is dominated by BSkyB), they will drop the Payview plans.
 
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#5
I think that it's high time that Sky's attempts to monopolise broadcasting and communications in the UK was stopped. Though I doubt whether Ofcom has the b*lls to stand up to them !

Mike
:FRIGHT:
Definately. It's absolutely ridiculous what they're doing now with Virgin as well. They need to stop overcharging and embracing the competition as a good platform to put out their services. I honestly don't think it mattered how much Virgin offered them to keep their channels, they would have still said no.
 

nix9

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#6
What Virgin need to do is win the premium programs off of sky one onto another channel they have.
 
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#7
agree then competition will increase and would mean sky to have to win right from virgin for their channels