Why is ITV2 not free to view on Sky?

ProDave

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#1
[updated:LAST EDITED ON 30-Nov-01 AT 01:35 PM (GMT)]I am new here, and this is my first post. I have only just found this site. As there are a lot of people here, who like me only use a free to view card for the free UK channels, I would like to discuss about ITV2 and why it's excluded to Sky FTV viewers. Apologies, it's a bit of a long posting!

ITV2 is blocked now to people with a Sky Digibox and a free to view BBC card, and only available to someone with a Sky subscription of some sort. It is however NOT encrypted, and so CAN be viewed with a NON Sky digibox.

This raises several, I think important issues which I will outline, and hope others will discuss.

Firstly, why do I expect ITV2 to beFTV? Well simply because it is FTV on Digital Terestrial television. Everything else that's free on DTT, is free on Satellite, so why is ITV2 an exception?

Now call me a cheapskate if you like for only being interested in FTV digital television, but hold on before you do. Take a look at some recent surveys that show a very large pecentage of the population do NOT want pay television, they only want the free channels that are paid for by their TV licence, or supported entirely by advertising.

Now these same surveys also show also that of these who only want free television, many think that they should not have to pay ANYTHING to change over to digital television. At least I am not that tight, I was prepared to pay the £100 to get my digibox and minidish for the free channels.

So the government has this plan, to convert us all to digital television, and then turn off the analogue service. They have finally realised, that the only way to tempt people into changing to digital free to view, is to offer them more channels than the 5 they currently have (and make cheap set top boxes readilly available). So now there are talks about the possibility of some of the UK channels becominig FTV, and a major advertising campaign about FTV digital TV starting next year. This ITV2 thing therefore flies directly in the face of that.

Now for the Sky subscribers. You are smug in the fact that you have access to ITV2, although from comments on this BB, many think ITV1 and ITV2 are not worth watching. But hold on, you will not be so smug when your Sky subscription rises to cover it.

There was discussion here about forthcomming Sky price rises, and someone sugested that it Sky would justify it by the fact that ITV1 and 2 are now available. I said at the time don't be so silly, these are FREE channels. But I am wrong, Sky are going to charge you for something that should be free.

So to all sky subscribers, when your subscriptions rise, write to Sky to complain that they are CHARGING you for what should be a FREE channel. And it's not like you have a choice to include it or exclude it from your package.

At the moment there are only a very few people like me that have taken up Digital TV just for the free channels. Over time Free digital viewers will become the majority (if not analogue switch off can't happen) so it is important that a good range of free channels is available.

Incidently I have no problem with ITV sport. It is a subscription channel on DTT, so I assume it will be subscription channel on Digital Satellite if it ever comes. All I want is a level playing field, where each channel is consistent in it's charging policy over all platforms. I'm sure there would be plenty complaining if Sky One became free on terestrial, but not on Satellite for example.

I shall be contacting ITV2 to put these points to them. I shall also try and contact Patricial Hewitt/ Tessa Jowell's office to find their view on this ITV2 situation, and how it sit's with the governments Digital Television Action Plan.

After sending lot's of emails, I have had this one repply after a week: (the one I sent to the Government's DTI website)

QUOTE
Thank you for your e-mail of 23 November about digital television. I have been asked to reply.

Ministers appreciate your concern about being unable to receive ITV2 as a free-to-air channel on the satellite platform. You will be interested to know that these policies are, a result of wholly commercial decisions between the television operators, programme makers, and the rights holders of the programmes concerned - decisions in which the Government has no remit to intervene. It is however, a long-standing policy that broadcasting services are independent of Government. How Sky and other pay television services operate their services is purely a matter for them.

Nevertheless, consumer protection from anti-competitive practices is
considered very seriously in the UK. Any complaint on such matters should be brought to the attention of Mr John Vickers, Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) at the Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX. If you have not already done so, you may wish to let Mr Vickers know of any concerns you have about possible anti-competitive practices.

In response to your further concern, you will be interested to know that the Government has stated in the white paper 'A New Future for communications' that the Government is committed to ensuring that the free channels which are currently available on analogue, (BBC 1 and 2, ITV and Channels 4/S4C and 5) will be available as free-to-air channels on all digital platforms.

I hope this is helpful.

Sujan Kareer

Broadcasting Policy Adviser Department of Culture, Media & Sport
END QUOTE

So I will now write to the Office of Fair Trading as "consumer protection from anti-competitive practices is considered very seriously in the UK"

Now given that ITV2 is being broadcast Free to Air and can be received on a Non Sky digibox, I consider the fact that it is blocked to Sky Digibox owners to be an anti-competitive practice.

I urge other free to air viewers to do the same. Only if enough people complain might someone apply pressure to change things.

In the mean time, does anyone know a way to legally receive it, short of actually buying a non Sky digibox?
 

2old4this

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#2
Here a few thoughts of my own on the points your raise:

First, I don't agree with this idea that just because something's "free" on the terrestrial platform, it should also be free on satellite. That would hold true were it not for the fact that transmission by satellite is not a cost-free undertaking. Astra transponder space is very expensive. And then there's the share of the whole supporting infrastructure (cards & encryption system development&administration if it is FTV rather than truly FTA, but also the general costs of running a satellite company.)

WIth respoect to the "anti-competitiveness" (or otherwise) of this:
I would argue (have frequently done so here) that the way BSkyb has set itself up is in its entirety anti-competitive.

Their insistance on not following European guidelines or standards (for example their refusal to allow receiver-independent Common Interface CAMs to be manufactured, and their continual refusal to enable the digibox to accept other CI CAMs) has effectively locked the mainstream satellite viewer into Sky. In fact, everything from their strict control of supply of digiboxes to their majority share-holding in the NDS company that owns the encryption system contributes to this lock-in. Everything from their use of a new orbital slot to their removal of dishes that pointed to the old one (which was multi-platform). The dishes they supply are not even capable (due to their extreme small size) of receiving other sigals. Even the digibox itself has been deliberately crippled in such a way that it is barely capable of receiving or handling transmissions form oother providers - or indeed even FTA transmissions which do not want to pay for an entry in the EPG (and all such cripples have been implemented in the software - the hardware has always been capable of more!)

So what nonsense to see in the official response that they encourage any perceived anti-competiveness to be reported. It is the government that have allowed this to happen in the first place. Anyone who spends even a few minutes looking at the situation will see that BSkyb's entire business strategy is blatently anti-competitive.

Let's also challenge the terminology and meaning of the response you quoted. Is the govenment really "committed to ensuring that the free channels which are currently available on analogue, (BBC 1 and 2, ITV and Channels 4/S4C and 5) will be available as free-to-air
channels on all digital platforms"?
ALL digital platforms?
Free-to-air?
Really?
Free-to-Air means UNENCRYPTED. It does NOT mean encrypted in a form that can be decrypted using a card - even if the card is "free" to the target audience. Such transmissions are actually referred to as FTV = Free-to-view. The distinction, by the way, is particularly relevant in the context of Sky's business practice and the lock-in I mentioned. If indeed these channels were truly FTA then any digital satellite receiver would be able to receive them. The audience would be free to choose. If instead they are encrypted then the viewer is again dependent on some commercially-motivated provider to administer the cards and manage the necessary encryption infrastructure. As things stand today, this even means that the viewer is obliged to purchase a Sky Digibox.

To bring this whole anti-competitive thing into sharp focus, imagine for a moment how difficult (if not impossible) it would be now for a second satellite provider to try to enter the UK market. Unless that provider is willing simply to be a content-provider on the Sky platform (like the various "adult" channels), there is virtually no way they could survive. If they wanted to use a different encyption technology then by definition every existing satellite viewer also wishing to receive the new service would need two satellite receivers. And if the new provider didn't want to (or couldn't afford to) transmit from the Astra2 orbital slot, then every existing satellite viewer would need a second dish - and that's already a non-starter due to planning restrictions in the UK. They wouldn't even have the option of a second LNB on the existing Sky dish since (a) the Sky dish is too small to support such an offset arrangement and (:cool: Sky will not support any change to their "standard configuration".

So it seems utterly bizarre to me that the government seeking to switch-off of analogue terrestrial transmissions, should be so dependent on one single anti-competitive satellite provider and one flaky digital terrestrial provider to pick up the baton. What if Sky went bust? Not likely? Well they still make hundreds of millions of pounds loss anually. And ITV-Digital is teetering on the brink. If the Government has a role at all, it should be to safeguard the consumers interests by encouraging a platform/techology that can be used by many different competing providers. They can start by FORCING Sky to adopt open standards and SPLITTING OFF the supply of the infrastructure (boxes, CAMs, dishes etc) from the supply of programming.

2old
 

ProDave

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#3
A very well thought out and presented response, and I agree entirely with you on all you say about Sky and the lock-in to their unique digibox.

But this anti competitive thing goes even deeper. Consider ITV Digital, or to be specific Terestrial Digital television. In fact consider the way Digital television is available on any platform in the UK.

The ONLY reason I have a Sky Digibox is because at the beginning of this year, I started looking for a way to receive all the free Digital television channels, without paying for subscription television. What I found was Sky's "free minidish and digibox" available to non subscribers for a £100 install fee was just about the only way to receive them. At the time I bought it, ITV was not on Sky, but everyone predicted it would be "soon" so I proceeded, and had hoped that ITV2 would also be included. It actually came as a supprise to me that all the normal terestrial channels were on digital satellite, as in the analogue days they wern't. Satellite TV then was only about Extra channels in addition to the normal terestrial ones.

Now initially I had looked at getting a digital terestrial set top box, but what did I find? None available. If you Subscribed to OnDigital as it was then they would LOAN you a free box, but try and buy one, I couldn't find one on sale. I could have bought an integrated digital television, but chose not to as the only ones currently made are larger than I want.

So this non availability of digital terestrial set top boxes is also anti competetive as well, just trying to con you into having a subscription I think. I wonder how many ITVDigital subscribers think they are paying for BBC Choice, Knowledge etc?

So at the moment, the free to air viewer in the UK does not have much choice. The Sky Digibox is the best compromise, but it is a compromise. Oh how I agree with you, why couldn't we just have a free to air digital receiver for the free channels, and plug in a CAM if you want to subscribe to the pay channels.

But the fact that most of the "free" uk channels are encrypted using Sky's own system, and require a Sky box and free card to decode them, locks you into this system. Okay you can also have a free to air Satelite receiver (that would allow me to watch ITV2) but I don't want another seperate set top box just for that, and it would be no good on it's own as it wouldn't receive the BBC Channels.

What about cable. The Government want to ensure all the basic channels are available free on ALL Digital platforms. So consider this. A friend of mine has NTL, just for telephone and internet, he chose not to have the digital TV because he is not interested in Pay TV. So shouldn't he be able to BUY a cable set top box and watch all the free digital channels? If the government are serious about what they say, then the answer is he should be able to ,but I bet he can't.
 

dishdoctor

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#4
I think someone is missing the point here,ITV2 is a premium channel,a pay to view channel,a channel not available free at all,if it is available on a open digital box then this is surely a temporary thing,if ITV2 was fta on sky digital,why not ITV sport,then they could close down On Digital/ITV Digital completely..Best of luck...Brian
 
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noddyo1

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#5
I think the goverment is happy to let sky have its way, together with the EU they preach against anti-competitive behaviour, but when there is a conflict in long term goals it becomes all talk.
Governments in Europe want to modernise television broadcasting but who is going to pay for it? So they are letting companies like sky establish a platform to broadcast with a degree of protection in return for the large investment required,this is why they have not forced the release of the videogurd cam in the Uk.
It would be consistant with promotion of anti-competitive behaviour but they know it would not please sky et al.
It will be interesting as to when the tide turns against the platform providers as to how many households in the Uk will be locked into sky as a provider for their tv entertainment.
We all know that if we take the preachings of the EU goverments inc the UK then we would be free to go to Humax,Nokia,Pace etc buy an stb then buy a videoguard cam together with any other cam and choose which provider we want.This change would be extreemly slow and they know it and thats why we are where we are now.
 

rolfw

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#6
As Dishdoctor says, if ITV2 is available FTA at present on non Sky receivers, it is probably only temporary, some PPV channels are occasionally available in the same way but normally as an oversight.

Sky Digital will at best only ever be a large minority broadcaster and cannot hope in the long term to out subscribe (in terms of non paying viewers) terrestrial TV in whatever form it eventually settles.

The Installation only free Digibox for FTV is only provided I'm sure, as a sop to the government to show willing in their "digital for the people" programme. Whether ITV choose to supply the ITV2 channel free to view is entirely down to them, as it will be in the case of many other would be digital platform TV channels.


Now for the Sky subscribers. You are smug in the fact that you have access to ITV2, although from comments on this BB, many think ITV1 and ITV2 are not worth watching. But hold on, you will not be so smug when your Sky subscription rises to cover it.
Smug? I've not heard one smug comment about receiving ITV2 on Sky subscription, pleased yes, smug no. There may be an element of truth in the fact that the impending rise in Sky subscriptions is partially due to the provision of ITV2 and possibly even ITV 1, but as far as I know ITV are paying for their own transponder space and paying Sky for the EPG listings.

I agree that to make digital tv attractive to the masses, there needs to be a reasonable spread of free to view programming, but whether that should include ITV2 , who knows? I guess that advertising revenue will be the key decider on that question.

Rolf
 

misterminibus

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#7
I have 2 sly systems one of which i subscribe and one which I brought from my previous house and installed myself.

Instead of complaining to all and sundry I would advise you to bite the bullett and subscribe to the entertainment package which is about £20 a month for one or two months and inform them that you have a system but no longer have a card.
They will send you a revised card which receives itv 1,2 and 3 aswell as about 48 more, after say one month cancel your subscription as you purchased your system with no subscription you are not tied to a 12month contract.
I realise that this is a little bit of messing around but after doing this your card will now permit you to receive itv 1,2 and 3 but it will only cost you £20-40
this will work as my above mentioned old system is set up and receiving itv2
on the card which I no longer subscribe with.
Another way is to purchase a freeview (£35 asda) box or an ex on digital/itv digital
with the option of top up tv (£20-40 ebay) which will give you abc1 which sly dont air free or otherwise.
Ps you could of had free installation on the full package (£40 per month) and after the 1st month reduced it to the minimum requirements (Discovery H&L and Sly one) for I think around £10 which in total would cost £150 but with lots to watch for the extra £50 and after the 12 month contract you would still have itv 2. Its easy in hindsight though isnt it? :)
 

Channel Hopper

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#8
I see the system for cryogenic stasis recovery is functioning correctly. Best check on the brain function reports for any anomalies, you can't be too sure.
 

Topper

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#9
mrminibus said:
Its easy in hindsight though isnt it? :)
YES BLOO*Y marvelous of course it is very easy to reply to a post from 2001 with the correct answer wow, what foresight what genius!!!! Go to the top of the class!!!!!!!({}) :p :p
Channel Hopper got it right
Channel Hopper said:
I see the system for cryogenic stasis recovery is functioning correctly. Best check on the brain function reports for any anomalies, you can't be too sure.
 

rolfw

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#11
It's Alive, It's Alive. :D



LOL, nice to see a rave from the grave re-appear. :-lmao
 

misterminibus

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#12
im glad its free too, I was told about an excellent film that was on last wednesday called volcano so i recorded it and sat down to watch it last night
after searching through the tape I realised after half an hour that the logo in the corner of the screen said itv 3 technology advances so much but it still comes down to us silly pillocks to record the right side, anyone else do this or am i on my own??
 

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#14
I must remember to check the date of posts before I start reading


 

Analoguesat

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#15
kleefarr said:
That's still only in UK I take it?

Its now gone ftv rather than fta. However, theres still a chance all ITV will go properly fta later in the year.
 
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#16
2old4this said:
Here a few thoughts of my own on the points your raise:

First, I don't agree with this idea that just because something's "free" on the terrestrial platform, it should also be free on satellite..............................etc

2old
Here here. I thought I was the only barnpot wishing mr murdochs billions were found to be printed with invisible ink.
If ever you wanted to see a government (or should that read the civil service) exposing itself as a self funding unit then look no further at the blatant bribery (thats MY OPINION by the way not this forums), that has taken place over the years, fron its conception (BSKY:cool: to its current format. Talk about the rich getting richer. Now I'm no commie, I like to make a buck or 2 myself, but unfortunately I do Have a consiounse as well. I agree totally with your sentiments, its about as blatant as a JFK magic bullet. Theres so much back slapping and self indulgency in the government (whoever is in at the time). Becoming a senior politician must be like winning the lottery is to the rest of us mere mortals, except there chances are considerably better i.e. 1 in 1 chance!!!!!!!!!!!
I will never understand how, particularly today, when the BBC have now got a further extension, we can be forced to pay for a license to watch a company that advertises its own programming, with also so much "product placement" its criminal, (that doesn't include the £4000 of our money that the BBC is paying the burglar reference Tony Martin the Farmer). With ITV desperately hanging on with its advertising (in my opinion the only relatively honest broadcaster), and then if you want SKY, you need to pay an EXTORTIANATE subscription fee, as well as further billing for box office films and sporting events, and to rub salt in the wounds, they also take advertisement breaks that in 1 hour broadcasting would probably split 60/40 in favour of adverts.
I would love to see a MINISTER big enough to bloody Murdochs nose (politically of course) and sort out this mess that has purely become Skys captive audience, which ever way you look at it.
Sorry for the rant.
 

misterminibus

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#17
cant see why the shouldn't the adverts fund them, surley the more ppl see them the more ppl buy the products the more money the advertisers make therfore the more itv can charge the advertisers next time?
 
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#18
I will never understand how, particularly today, when the BBC have now got a further extension, we can be forced to pay for a license to watch a company that advertises its own programming
Do you mean they shouldn't tell you what programmes are coming up?
 
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