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Is the Sky falling in?

Sky no longer appears to be interested in having large numbers of viewers to its channels, and is to withdraw them from Freeview and cable TV.

Sky no longer appears to be interested in having large numbers
published on UK Free TV

Like a petulant child, BSkyB, supposedly Britain's premier subscription television outfit, is threatening to take its toys home and not let anyone else play with them.

Having already announced that it doesn't want Sky News, Sky Sports News or Sky Three to be on any of the 14 million Freeview TV sets, in a spat with newly launched cable TV company Virgin Media, Sky is now reported to threatening to withhold these three channels plus Artsworld, Sky One, Sky Two and Three, and Sky Travel from the four million cable TV sets.

Regulated channels, such as Sky Sports and Sky Movies channels are not threatened.

Having only recently been slapped on the wrist for misleading advertising in the Whitehaven area, Sky is now providing adverts that tell cable customers that they will lose these Sky channels if they subscribe via Virgin Media.

Has the number of BSkyB customers for so long flat lining - now gone into reverse?

See also: Payview is coming and Sky adverts: dishonest, untrue and unsubstantiated

Update, 4pm, Wednesday 14th February 2007:

Ofcom tells UK Free TV, that they 'note the announcement by Sky that it proposes to use its existing capacity on the digital terrestrial platform for subscription television services. This would first require variations to licences held by Sky and National Grid Wireless, the multiplex operator. Once Ofcom has received an application to vary a licence then it will consult on the proposals; we can not prejudge the outcome of this process.'

Update, Friday 16th February 2007: Ofcom announces more information.

Sky proposal to launch new service on digital terrestrial television

On 8 February 2007 Sky announced that it proposes to launch a new service on the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform. Following a series of requests for clarity on the regulatory process regarding the proposed launch, Ofcom confirms that it will consult on any such proposals.

Skys announcement noted that the launch of the new service will be subject to approval by Ofcom including the necessary variations to licences held by Sky and National Grid Wireless, which provides Sky with DTT transmission and multiplexing services.

When Ofcom receives a request for approval of the necessary variations, the issues that would require consultation are likely to include:

Firstly, the impact on consumers of Sky's proposal to use MPEG4 compression technology via new set-top boxes, in order to increase the amount of content which can be carried. Ofcom would need to assess:

  • The potential benefit of a rapid migration from the current compression standard MPEG2, to MPEG4 which will ultimately increase the number of channels available on digital terrestrial television;
  • The potential detriment associated with a reduction in the number of channels received by existing set-top boxes or digital televisions;
  • The risk that existing set-top boxes or digital televisions might be incompatible with multiplexes broadcast using a combination of MPEG2 and MPEG4 coding;
  • The overall effect on consumer confidence in the digital switchover process.

Secondly, whether any variation to the channel line-up might unacceptably diminish the appeal of the channels to a variety of tastes and interests and 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.

Finally, 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 content of the consultation and its timing will be announced once a request for an approval has been received. Ofcoms normal consultation period is 10 weeks.

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