BBC, ITV, C4 'want Sky out of Freeview'

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The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are reportedly set to tell media regulator Ofcom that BSkyB should no longer be a shareholder in the consortium marketing the UK's free-to-view digital terrestrial platform, Freeview.

Last month Sky announced it planned to launch a pay-TV service on digital terrestrial, removing Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three from Freeview, and using the capacity to broadcast four subscription channels offering movies, entertainment and live Premiership football using the more efficient MPEG-4 video compression standard.

An un-named shareholder told The Independent on Sunday: "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."

Ofcom said last month that no request to change licences held by Sky and National Grid Wireless, the transmission group which currently carries Sky's three channels on Freeview, had been received. But discussions between Ofcom and Sky had identified the need to consult on Sky's plans to launch a new DTT set-top box using MPEG-4; the impact of the loss of Sky's three channels on Freeview; and whether new licence conditions were needed to ensure fair competition.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Telegraph said major Sky advertisers including Cadbury's and Honda were threatening to leave Sky's basic channels unless the dispute is solved with Virgin Media over carriage fees, and the basic channels return to cable.

Lovelace Consulting  |  19.03.2007

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