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Government to stop Sky charging public service broadcasters for "retransmission"

Sky is to be forced to stop charging the public service broadcasters (ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, S4C and the BBC) for the pleasure of their customers having channels they have already paid for listed in the Sky Guide.

Sky is to be forced to stop charging the public service broadca
published on UK Free TV

Back on 29th August 2011 , UK Free TV reported about Paying Sky for free public service television channels.

A report today, Connectivity, Content and Consumers Britain's digital platform for growth [pdf] from the Department for Culture Media and Sport says that Sky's "retransmission fees" must stop.

Update: The BBC, ITV, STV, UTV, S4C, Channel 4 and Channel 5 all have contracts with the satellite owners, SES Astra to carry their channels on satellite.

The phrase "retransmission fees" is an allusion to the position in the USA, where cable and satellite gatekeepers pay the broadcasters for their content.

However, this dispute is over Sky charging the above programme creators and providers to have their programmes listed in the Sky Electronic Programme Guide. Sky does not in any sense transmit, or retransmit BBC, ITV, STV, UTV, S4C, Channel 4 and Channel 5 channels.

The public service broadcasters:

Channel 4 (see Channel 4 would like to turn Sky "retransmission fees" into programming);

the BBC (The BBC wants to stop paying Sky ten million pounds a year for EPG listing and BBC may charge Sky for content as retransmission fee row escalates - Media - )

ITV (see ITV backs retransmission fee review - News - Broadcast)

all believe Sky are abusing their satellite-gatekeeper position, which much political agreement.

The DCMS document says:

Access to Public Service programmes

PSB channels are brought to our living rooms by various TV platforms, such as Freeview, Sky, Virgin, and Freesat. Platforms benefit from having must-see content distributed across their services, while broadcasters benefit from having access to mass market audiences. But there is a growing debate around the payments that are made between broadcasters and platforms.

The Government wants to see zero net charges, where the fees for access to the main platforms and for PSB channels cancel each other out. This is not too far removed from the current market position, and recognises the benefits to platforms, the PSBs, and audiences from being able to access award winning, PSB content.

This mirrors the arrangement already in place for PSBs and cable platforms, where no charges are made - an arrangement that we want to see preserved. We are looking closely at how we can help achieve this without allowing other kinds of online services to exploit PSB content, with no benefit flowing to the PSB. We will launch a consultation on this in the autumn, before bringing forward legislative proposals if required.

For example, almost three quarters of viewing of TV channels 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.

Sky has already cut the costs - Sky halves EPG charges for public service broadcasters and saves BBC local radio.

See also DCMS to abolish retransmission fees - News - Broadcast.

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Thursday, 1 August 2013

3:36 PM

trevorjharris: The BBC have spend CONSIDERABLY more than £100m on the refurb of Broadcasting House. It's more like £1bn[1]

As for your DAB comment, didn't I read that "the share of all radio listening via digital radio now stands at 36.8 compared with 34.3 last quarter. The share of analogue listening in the UK is now at its lowest ever" today - oh yes, I did [2]

[1] The new BBC Broadcasting House: So what does £1bn buy? | Art and design | The Guardian

[2] Digital Radio listening continues to rise : Radio Today

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Les Nicol

3:44 PM

trevorjharris: The amount of PSB programs is now minimal and certainly the quality is pretty poor. It seems that it is moving towards pay tv channels subsidising the PSB channels. Having read and digested the "Report" it doesn't seem the reports conclusion's would share in your views of the Public Service Broadcasters contribution to Broadcasting.

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag

4:41 PM

Les Nicol: I guess the point is how you define "public service broadcasting"?

There is what one might describe as the "American position", which is one of "market failure": that public broadcasters provide only what the market can't.

The "British position" is somewhat different. It encompasses the idea that public service broadcasting is a good to be enjoyed by all citizens.

The UK has several different models of broadcaster:

- a full-service corporation that provides services in exchange for a fixed level on households with a television set. This entity is prevented from using advertising to generate additional income.

- a network (of three now) broadcasters who provide a range of defined public service programmes (now limited to news and regional news) in exchange for EPG prominence, but historically were granted exclusive rights to a limited spectrum. These broadcasters generate revenue from spot adverts.

- a corporation that is ad-funded and gets free access to the airwaves, but must provide a range of programmes not provided by the above two entities.

- a fifth national network in the vein of the second above listed which gets slot 5 in exchange for a news service;

- and (for historical reasons that have nothing to do with arson attacks on holiday homes) a service for Welsh speaking viewers;

The various laws define the above as "public services" and they are mostly in good health as they, together, account for over 75% of viewing.

Quite why Sky News isn't provide something for it's efforts is a good question.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag

4:48 PM

... another definition of "public service broadcasting", which is of little interest to rich people in cities with Sky subscriptions, would involve seeing that a high-quality service is provided to all citizens in the country...

People with "Freeview light" might think that they get a poor deal, but they do get a high-quality service of programmes.

This is an very expensive cross-subsidy, and would certainly not exist if markets decided.

If you don't think so, just channel Richard Beeching...


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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag

6:08 PM


Sorry I miss typed the cost of refurbishing Broadcasting House was £1bn including £200m overspend.

When Sky started ITV refused to go onto Sky inorder to encourage Ondigital. This seem to have no effect on Skys expansion and eventually ITV had to go on Sky. I think the same would happen if the BBC was to leave Sky. People could just get an analogue aerial or use the internet. Of course if the BBC did leave Sky they could annoy 11.4 million subscribers who might demand that they shouldn't have to pay the licence fee.

If the BBC left Sky they would not be able to cover big events like the Olympics. For the London Olympics Sky provided free of charge 24 SD and 24 HD channels. Something the BBC could not have done. If the BBC was to leave Sky Europsport could take over as they have the rights too. As it was it was left to ESPN to provide the live 3D coverage.

It must also be remembered the Freesat is totally dependent on Sky.

To put it simply the BBC needs Sky more than Sky needs the BBC.

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB flag

8:02 PM

"It must also be remembered the Freesat is totally dependent on Sky"
Trevor how please as Brian told me above that the BBC have contracts direct with SES Astra for the transmission and this is only about payment to SKY for the Sky EPG.
Freesat do their own EPG cheaper see above too.

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David's 306 posts GB flag

8:30 PM

David: I thought that the diagram I did made it very clear that Freesat is 100% not dependant on Sky in any way.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
8:43 PM

David:why has create and craft finished at 6pm on channel 36

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Hilary's 1 post GB flag

10:09 PM

Yes Brian clear what you said to me but not to Trevor it seems.
Hilary I'm on Freesat which as no channel 36.

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David's 306 posts GB flag
Les Nicol

10:35 PM

Briantist: - David, Yes and I remember watching a superb piece of investigatve TV journalism that highlighted the flooding of the market with Ondigital Viewung cards at knockdown prices and that was the downfall. for ITV. That investigation saw a trail from the UK leading to Israel and company involved in the production of encryption/decryption systems for the TV industry. There was evidence that would have suggested arms length linking to a company within the Murdock stable producing the NDS encryption/decryption card access system. Whilst difficult for the investigative journalist to nail this definitvely,It would't have taken anyone with a measured amount of grey matter between the ears to work out what saw the demise of Ondigital. Smatterings of "phone hacking" etc etc.

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag
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