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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

6:58 AM

PS: is there any chance of ITV 2 3 & 4 HD services coming to FreeSat, especially as ITV has quite a stake in FreeSat ? Sport on ITV4 SD looks terrible compared to BBC ONE HD and ITV HD.

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Nedbod's 452 posts GB

7:03 AM

Did you know that if you change your postcode in your Freesat box to a Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish one you can get the respective national BBC ONE and ITV services in HD ? Why aren't these HD versions in the guide anyway along with the SD versions on Freesat ?

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Nedbod's 452 posts GB
Les Nicol

7:17 AM

Nedbod: I think this goes right back to the Thatcher government and as Brian points out includes all the Public Service Broadcasters. It's ironic though that all the incoming administrations following did "bugger" all about it until mow - continuing to "sweet talk" to Murdoch. This probably wouldn't have been put to right but for the press ourages (mainly but not exclusively the Murdoch Press sll thr hurt caused to innocent people and that very costly enquiry.

I think as licence payers this arrangement was at best misapproriation of our hard earned cash and at worst fraudulent.

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB

10:22 AM

Nedbod: ITV2/3/4HD were intended to be subscription channels from the outset. To make them free to air does not add any viewers (they already have the SD version) but would lose subscription revenue. NHK took the decision to switch off the SD service and just transmit in HD in order to save money. However if ITV was to do this they would lose viewers as there are many SD Sky and Freesat boxes in use. Note that the commercial services in Germany are likewise free to air on SD and subscription on HD. As in the UK it is only the PSB services that are free-to-air in HD.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB

11:42 AM

KMJ my Freesat gets the NHK news in HD only ok, but I not getting FIVE in HD.

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David's 306 posts GB

12:13 PM

David: 5 HD is on Sky, not Freesat

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB

1:29 PM

@ Brianist

The BBC has only paid £6m from 2012 and it will reduce to £4.4m in 2014. I assume this will only apply to PSB channels BBC1, ITV1, Chennel 4, and Five. This is insignificant compared to executive expenses, £100m spent on refurbishing Broadcasting house and at least £100m waisted on DAB.

There is also the issue of whether we should have any PSB broadcasters consinering the minimal PSB output.

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB

1:50 PM

MikeB yes I said it was not on Freesat but it is considered to be PSB or so I thought so should be on Freesat IE all platforms.

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David's 306 posts GB

3:21 PM

Actually there is another issue and that is EPG prominance. As I understand it one of the reasons that Sky was permitted to charge the BBC was for thier prominant position in the EPG. Prominant positions in an EPG have commercial value and the EPG charge was meant to be compensation for that.

The Government is loosing site of the main aim of providing privileges to PSB was to provide Public Service Broadcasting and not to provide cheap tv. 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.

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trevorjharris's 367 posts GB

3:32 PM

trevorjharris: Actually, the law says that the whatever channels the Secretary of State decides are PSB channels, plus those provided by the BBC have to go at the top of the EPG.

Sky was not permitted to charge for the commercial value of the slot, but as "service fee" for the operation of the EPG.

Sky have excellent lawyers and did a great job of loading costs onto SSSL, such as the free-dish-and-box-offer and marketing costs.

It is clear from all the figures that PSB channels subsidize the Sky platform, not the other way around.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
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