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Sky halves EPG charges for public service broadcasters and saves BBC local radio

Sky is set to lower the charges it makes to the four public service broadcasters after complains that the prices were excessive. The BBC will have 5.5m back, 5.7m will go to ITV, 2.3m to Channel 4 and 600k to Channel 5. This is enough to reduce the proposed cuts to BBC local radio.

Sky is set to lower the charges it makes to the four public ser
published on UK Free TV

Back in August, UK Free TV reported (Paying Sky for free public service television) that the public service broadcasters were being charged many millions of pounds to have their programmes listings provided to Sky customers.

Today, Broadcast reports (see BBC radio gets boost as Sky slashes retrans fees - News - Broadcast) that Sky will halves the costs to these broadcasters.

The reductions will be:

  • BBC, £9.9m reduced to £6m in 2012 and £4.4 in 2014.
  • ITV, £8.1m reduced to £4.5m in 2012 and £3.1m in 2014
  • Channel 4, £5m reduced to £4m in 2012 and £2.7m in 2014
  • Channel 5, £1.4m reduced to £1.1m in 2012 and £800,000 in 2014

The savings to the BBC will be used by the corporation to reduce the proposed cuts to BBC local radio.

John Tate, the director of policy and strategy at the BBC told the Guardian ( BSkyB to cut BBC transmission charges by more than £5m a year - Media - )

"The value Sky gets out of carrying BBC channels is huge, if Sky had to pay for that it would be hundreds of millions of pounds," said Tate. "Licence fee payers are being unfairly disadvantaged, the logic is that Sky should be paying to carry the most popular channels."

It is still worth noting that almost three quarters of viewing of TV channels (by Sky subscribers and non-subscribers) is to free-to-air channels provided by the main public service broadcasters, the BBC, ITV plc, STV, UTV, S4C, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

How does Sky calculate the charges to the BBC?

The current charges to the BBC are made up of:

EPG listing charge: £21,000 per TV channel per year, £16k per radio channel per year. The BBC list 11 TV channels excluding the 20 regional variations of BBC One and Two, and 18 radio channels. That's £231k for the non-regional plus £420k for the regional slots, and £288k for the radio stations, £939k total.

Then there's a 'Platform Contribution Charge' which seems to be set on viewership. For the BBC:

BBC Alba, BBC Parliament, BBC HD and BBC One HD pay the £92k 'Other Television Channels' charge and the 18 radio stations the £6k charge.
Total £9,887,625.

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Friday, 9 March 2012
11:20 AM

Interesting spin.

The cuts to Sky's carriage charges apply to all channels, not just PSBs as the headline implies.

And the "non-PSB" slice of the pie chart implies that the other channels are PSBs when of the commercial services only Channels 3, 4, 5 are PSBs. E4, ITV2, 5 USA, and their their sister stations are private commercial ventures.

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Michael's 1 post GB flag

12:36 PM

Michael: I am using the standard industry definition that the BBC, ITV plc, STV, UTV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 (and S4C of course) are the "public service broadcasters", but yes, some of the channels provided by "public service broadcasters" are run on a commercial basis, as they do not have PSB rights/obligations as individual channels.

As it was these PSBs that launched a joint campaign to ask for the price reductions, it is fair to report in that context.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag
Mike Dimmick

5:56 PM

Still £4.4m too much. Sky should not be using public money to subsidise acquiring customers.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
Saturday, 10 March 2012

10:51 AM

Whether Sky pays or the TV companies pay is dependent on comercial value. Is it more important to the BBC that it is on Sky or is it more important for Sky to have BBC. I don't think to PSBs are forced to go on sky but they have made a commercial decision to pay. At least Sky has reponded to their complaints.

There is of course a president for this. When Sky started ITV refused to go on Sky inorder to promote One Digital. When that went bust ITV clearly felt it was importent to be on Sky.

I mainly have Sky for the sport. If all the PSB channels left Sky I would still subscribe. It does seem to me that it does make financial sense for the commercial channels to stay on Sky.

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB flag

11:18 AM

I am suprised that so many people still watch BBC 1. The considerable increase in repeats and the increase in what I call trash programs has reduced my BBC 1 viewing time to negligable.

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB flag
Mark Agius

6:24 PM
Haywards Heath

BBC3 £994,310, BBC4 £310,055 ?
cBBC £342,130, Cbeebies £737,715 ?

I would have thought that the cost for BBC3 / BBC4 would have been the same
and Cbeebies costs twice as much as cBBC!

Sky need to sort out it's EPG software so it can show ITV 4+1 again, or is it that ITV have decided not to show the +1 channel on Sky due to the high cost of an EPG slot.

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Mark Agius's 374 posts GB flag
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Monday, 12 March 2012
Mike Dimmick

2:55 PM

Mark Agius: The figures appear to be proportional to the channel's share of viewing, as reported by BARB. As BBC One has the highest viewing share, its charges are the greatest.

The fact that the BBC don't want to be subsidising Sky boxes for subscribers, and are not using any subscription facilities, seems to have escaped Sky. The only thing that the BBC require from Sky's services is to provide the 'correct' region from 18 possible regions, for BBC One, and from four nations, for BBC Two. Because Sky have *other* customers with regional requirements (mostly ITV1 microregions, with different advertising), and those customers' region boundaries don't entirely match up, the BBC appear to have to pay for > 50 regions. That is also unfair and should be stopped, but fundamentally I still believe the BBC shouldn't have to pay anything considering that it is a legal requirement for Sky to carry all the BBC's channels.

The BBC are also paying for an additional EPG slot for every variant, in the 971-989 range. They could save money by dropping this (and arguably this is beyond Sky's legal requirement).

The region count could be reduced a bit if the BBC, ITV, C4 and C5 would get together and work out a common set of boundaries. There would still be around 30 regions because ITV1 has that many micro-regions for advertising: the broadcasters with fewer regions shouldn't have to pay for someone else's requirement.

ITV4+1 can't be carried because legacy Sky boxes don't have enough memory - their memory for channel storage is now completely full. Sky would have to break compatibility with those boxes. ITV plc could buy up someone else's slot.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
Mike Dimmick

4:00 PM

trevorjharris: Sky are legally obliged to carry the PSBs. Communications Act 2003 section 310: Communications Act 2003 . The law failed to set any terms and conditions for carriage, leading to this mess. Sky's requirement to carry does imply that the channels must be there to be carried.

The BBC's Agreement with the government states that they must "do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure that viewers, listeners and other users (as the case may be) are able to access the UK Public Services that are intended for them, or elements of their content, in a range of convenient and cost effective ways which are available or might become available in the future." Satellite and cable are then listed as examples.

For ITV1, STV, UTV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C, Communications Act sections 272-276 apply. Section 273 deals specifically with satellite broadcast. Communications Act 2003 .

You might not watch BBC One, but 84% of the population watched it some time between 20 and 26 February - the highest of any channel, compared to 72.9% watching ITV1, 66.2% Channel 4, 64.0% BBC Two, 55.0% Channel 5, and 21.5% Sky 1. This is precisely why the BBC's share of Sky charges is so high. It does appear that the PSB channels have a discount relative to non-PSBs (including channels from a PSB's stable), otherwise the BBC would be charged many times Sky1's chargeback. As a rough guess (since I don't have the viewing share figures that Sky used to calculate the rate), the PSB rate is something like 1/3 (based on the relation between ITV1 and ITV2's viewing figures of that week, and the rates charged). But it's still far too high.

Sky's published price list appears to show that all charges to all channels - PSB or not - have been reduced by 26.6%. Compare the 20 March 2012 price list at…2012 to the one effective from 1 July:….pdf .

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag

7:40 PM

As a matter of interest, what's the % for BBC ONE HD on your pie chart I don't see it, whereas you do display the figure for ITV1 HD.

How come ?

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Nedbod's 619 posts GB flag

8:59 PM

Nedbod: BARB don't publish figures for BBC ONE HD, they include the figure in the BBC ONE figure. I've checked with Broadcast Magazine, and it's not listed in their tables either.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag
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