Ofcom want Sky to hand over the premium telly packages

26 June 2009

Sky and Ofcom look like they could be on collision course after the regulator proposed that Sky should make its premium film and sport content available to other broadcasting platforms such as BT Vision and Virgin Media. Naturally the satellite giant has rejected this out of hand and says it will use all legal avenues to stop it from going ahead.

Ofcom claim that forcing Sky to share its goodies will be a "most appropriate way of ensuring fair and effective competition" and that the content will be shared at regulated prices.

The news was welcomed with undisguised glee by BT Vision. The chief executive of BT Retail, Gavin Patterson possibly almost wet himself with excitement when he bleated: “The proposal to force Sky to wholesale its content is welcome, but we now need Ofcom to step up the pace and to enforce this rigorously,” like someone who had just found a golden turd in his garden.

What do y’all think? If Sky’s premium stuff could be viewed elsewhere, would you walk away from Murdochland? Is it even a fair proposal in the first place or is Ofcom turning into some kind of communist bully-boy organisation? Will we still be able to watch repeats of Heartbeat if it all comes off? Tell us what you think.

21 comments

  • McSteve
    Hope this includes HD content as Sky certainly have the monopoly on that.
  • Justin
    Shaft'm. I've been a Sky customer for years and watched as they bleed me on their channel crack. Every so often I knock back the channel package based on monthly increases hidden in the Sky Mag cover sheet. They've never offered me a new free Sky+ box and my old one is becoming slowly unsupported and more buggy. In fact, if I'd not added a new Hard Disk it would be a measly 40GB of storage and be unable to store more than a ants worth of shopping. My box is so old I'm not even allowed the free Sky Anytime feature I apparently pay for. Every so often I muse at HD and consider whether I want to pay another £120/year plus £79 fluffing around plus have my viewing figures linked to the phone line (a requirement). The sooner I can find an alternative (I can't get cable, broadband is barely 1MB) the better.
  • Mark
    Justin, there is always Freeview or Freesat, if you hate Sky for not giving stuff away to you, maybe you should try them?
  • The B.
    If broadcasters and the film industry kept abreast with the world of technology they'd all be streaming HD media now and no one would have to worry about Sky's monopoly, although BT's bottlenecking bandwidth is a different matter.
  • CompactDstrxion
    I think Sky should be forced to make their premium content available as encrypted channels on Freeview. This would allow the easiest access to their content for consumers who don't want to tie themselves up with Virgin or BT.
  • scribbles
    If I want to watch all the footie, I shouldn't have to subscribe to two different premium services! So I agree with OFCOM, especially as the minimum per month spend for new Sky customers (moving over from Setanta freeview) to obtain the sports package is £36pm! SS1 all on its own involves a minimum spend of £28 monthly. An absolute fucking rip-off, as there is no way to join Sky and ONLY purchase the Sky Sports pack. You are forced to take two other mixes with it. Fucking money sucking leeches, I hope that OFCOM force it through the courts and Murdoch chokes on the judgement!!!
  • Pete
    Fair comments. But from a business point of view, surely part of Sky's business/ offering is the product it sells (ie you go to sky because they have bothered investing in HD & Football and you want it). Fair enough if Sky decides to resell it's content at it's own price, but why does the nanny-state regulator have to get involved? Just because Virgin won't invest in more HD channels (yay for BBC HD..) and BT are too skint and short-sighted to fork out money on infrastructure to deliver (2MBs as a national standard? We should be aiming at 2 GB!), why punish the one business that has got it right! When I was at school and had a nicer, bigger cake than everyone else, my teacher might have made me share it with the other kids because if i didn't they would have cried and run of to their mommies. But now that I'm big and strong, if my boss tried to make me share my cake and I didn't want to, I'd tell him to go fuck himself. And so should Sky.
  • Mark
    CompactDstrxion - Sky tried to launch Sky Picnic which would be Sky 1, Sky Sports 1 and a Movie channel on the Digital Terrestrial Platform but due to Ofcom bureaucracy, Sky suspended the plan as it has been 2 years since the initially gave Ofcom the plan and forms and nothing has happened. Scribbles - £16.50 - 1 Pack subscription, that pack being News & Events which has ESPN. If people want more they pay more. I agree with Pete on the matter, why should they force Sky to help out the competition if the competition has been unwilling to compete? Has Virgin Media even expanded their network since NTL and Telewest were merged? If they force Sky to help out the competition it will harm Sky's willingness to develop new areas which will hurt the 9 million existing customers and future customers.
  • scribbles
    My father in law tried to join and he was told that he had to take 2 mixes and the total spend would be £36. Now if they tried to oversell the product then maybe my father in law should take the matter further? My main point is that there is currently no way to watch all premiership content through less than two different providers. Surely that is a bad thing? I think that it should work the other way too, ie. Virgin and BT should have to wholesale its content to Sky. It's only fair.
  • Mark
    Ah the problem there scribbles is that Sky originally did show all the premiership content but that was deemed against competition rules and so they must have a competitor now, so you have to deal with at least 2 companies to see all the premiership football. That's what happens when regulators are in town...
  • CompactDstrxion
    I urge everyone who has an opinion to respond to Ofcom's consultation, it only takes a minute.
  • mmm
    Good. Virgin has been forced to open up its cable network, sky should be forced to share its content.
  • Lost
    Im confused. I thought Virgin customers can already subscribe to sky movies/sports??? Whats the big deal?
  • Mark
    Virgin will get them slightly cheaper but will continue to make about 50% profit on them.
  • Might R.
    Thats right you big strong boy pete, you tell them to fuck off. And when the even bigger stronger "Keith" comes and tells you to fuck off and knocks you out, we'll all laugh. howzat?
  • 10 B.
    [...] Ofcom and Sky are going to have a massive fight in the corner of the television regulation playground. Gather round, it’s gonna be a mess. [...]
  • A K.
    To me, SKY, while being a bunch of greedy bastards, have at least bothered to invest in making new shows and throwing money at sport, and I can't help but feel if they've done all the work and just have to hand it over to those companies who can't compete, it doesn't seem fair, and what reason does SKY have to bother in future? If this passes, Sky could quite easily just go 'well, no money in it for us any more, we're withdrawing from sport and original programming'. Of course, the only reason I care are the Discworld TV movies that they've made two of, and I hope they'll make more, and hypocritically, I wait for a DVD release anyway, because I'm not paying SKY fees for one thing a year, having zero interest in football.
  • cb
    If ofcom enforce this it will be great, it is true that sky have invested the most on technology and the others dont stand up to it but it now gives everyone the chanc to watch all the football on offer. quite a lot of people cannot put up a sattelite dish where they live and therefore have no chance of recieving the best channels, as long as sky are handed a good percentage of the profits made then i dont see the problem.
  • Walski
    I agree with Justin, Scribbles, CompactDstrxion and CB. Just because the government has been weak and allowed Sky to buy up all the best sport doesn't mean they should be allowed to keep it all for themselves. There's a small thing called the public interest here. If kids can't watch sport on TV, they'll probably spend their spare time standing on street corners, taking drugs and beating up little old ladies. So I think Ofcom is dead right to force Sky to wholesale its sport to other broadcasters at reasonable rates and also to force it to put Sky Sports 1 on Freeview, even if it's encrypted and you have to pay for it. Oh, and just for good measure, they should put Test cricket back on the list of sports events that have to be shown on terrestrial TV. This is not meddling by a Communist regulator - it's just making sure everyone gets a fair deal.
  • PHYSC
    VIRGIN,SKY and all other tv companies should not be allowed to charge for freeview channels especialy not split up freeview channels into varied cost tv packages as this is scandalous,they are supposed to be free hence the name "freeview" all tv providers charging a premium to watch these should be told they cannot split the channels up if they provide any they should be foprced to provide them in the cheapest package they do or not at all,this way at least programs could be shared on tvcatchup instead of bloody tv companies charging premiums for channels that should be free if they refused to place them in the lowest package then they shouldn't be allowed to have them at all,and they certainly should not be taking over things like film4 and varied channels on and off.It's just an excuse for a company to say hey you get this many channels which half are freeview and theoreticaly not supposed to be in a premium package if you were to take the title litteraly for what it means.
  • PHYSC
    Ofcom are absolutely useless in terms of authority and they do next to nothing for anyone yet they charge 10p per minute i bet.They are allowing isp's to get away with up to and also allowing just 10% of an isps customers to recieve the up to maqrk so it shows how much they care when they enforce such ridiculously one sided views and rules,the same applies to allowing isps and phone companies to get away with giving no signal when charging for a service and they let the likes of phone company isps get away with refusing to place fibre optic lines in the ground because there arte 2 houses there so it doesn't pay the law shjould say if fitting new internet cables it must be phased over to fibre optic and that all buildings in the immediate vercinity of the undertaken work should get equal services in other words have the means to connect to it as well for all households in that street,not allow trhem to pick and choose who to hold to adsl ransom because they feel it's not economicaly viable.The media and culture secretary should be on to both ofcom for shoddy work and isps for the adsl ransom and speed deception and unacceptable traffic management,if they can't cope with full speed 24/7 for each customer regardless of rates of or ammounts of data downloaded then the term unlimited shouuld be out of bounds as a limit means a service cannot be unlimited.It's all a con i watch my isps with a beady eye every day checking on ookla speed test .net

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