BBC takes BSkyB to ITC



The BBC is taking its dispute with BSkyB over satellite channel slots to the TV regulator after talks between the two sides broke down.
The corporation claims that BSkyB has threatened to demote BBC channels from the first and second slots at the top of the electronic programme guide once the BBC stops paying it to encrypt its channels in two months' time.

Its last-ditch attempt to find a compromise through the intervention of the independent television commission comes just weeks after the BBC declared it was severing links with BSkyB in a bid to save £85m in satellite encryption charges.

Today the BBC said that BSkyB "had not given a satisfactory response" to its proposals for a compromise and had no option but to call in the regulators. "We are preparing a submission," a BBC spokesman said.

The involvement of the ITC in matters concerning the corporation is extremely rare, although not unprecendented - all the BBC's commercial channels are licensed by the watchdog.

BSkyB refused to comment but a senior source said: "All I can say is that we are not surprised. They have told us as much before."

In a briefing note, the BBC complained that BSkyB has threatened to demote BBC1 and BBC2 from the top EPG slots - possibly to the 52nd and 53rd slots, the last possible slots devoted to general entertainment channels.

BSkyB insists this is not a threat - it cannot allow the BBC to be broadcast unencrypted and preserve the first and second slots.

This is because unencrypted broadcasts can be picked up in Ireland, where BSkyB has already allocated Irish broadcaster RTE the first two channels in line with local commercial interests.

The BBC says it would be easy to differentiate the EPGs of British and Irish satellite viewers, and claims the Irish problem is a "complete red herring".

"RTE pays for conditional access, they can overwrite us," said a BBC spokesman. "We don't broadcast in the Republic of Ireland."

The BBC is guaranteed positions of "due prominence" on the EPG according to ITC guidelines. The government's communications white paper adhered to that phrase, but said that it "need not mean 'at the top' of the list".

Another complication is the status of regional variations of channels.

The BBC wants viewers in any region to access the appropriate versions of BBC1 or BBC2 in the first and second slots.

Maxi 1

Regular Member
My Location
Great net 1, now as we have expected, the BBC are paying the price for throwing around there weight. I suppose this is what happens when one does not investigate before taking action. I believe that this is a potential disaster for the BBC as theyare fighting to keep the TV licence scheme. Now after there recent actions a stronger debate may begin about the need for a TV license in today society. If the BBC are not careful they may become pay for view.

Well lets sit back and see them suffer. There are many other problems to come i.e copyrights etc.