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Sky Picnic stolen by the fairies
Friday 12 September 2008 16:42:57 by Andrew Ferguson

Sky who announced Sky Picnic a year ago has announced a suspension of any launch preparations according to DigitalSpy.co.uk.

Sky Picnic was to have centered around a broadband, telephone and TV service that used a custom set-top box providing three subscription channels using digital terrestrial TV.

It seems the suspension is down to the 18 months that it has taken Ofcom so far to look at the proposal and as yet no end to this decision making process is in sight.

"But the blunt truth is that Ofcom has spent 18 months looking at our proposals and there is no end in sight. The Picnic team have done everything they can to prepare for launch and there’s nothing left to be achieved until Ofcom makes its mind up. While regulation works at its own pace, no business can go on like this indefinitely so we’ve had to take some pragmatic decisions. We will decide whether to reactivate the project when we have regulatory clarity."

Sky spokesperson talking about Sky Picnic

The proposed service has attracted criticism in the past from some quarters, saying that Sky already has a large enough market via its satellite services for TV content. Only in the last couple of months have DVB-T2 test broadcasts taken place which could eventually see HD content on digital terrestrial television.

Update 11pm Ofcom has issued a response to Sky's statement, which can be read in full on the regulators website:

"Ofcom rejects the implications of BSkyB’s comments today and would highlight the following facts:

  1. Having announced Picnic in a press statement in February 2007, BSkyB took two months to submit the necessary application and a further two months to provide sufficient information to enable Ofcom to publish a consultation document on the matter.
  2. When Ofcom consulted on both the Picnic proposal and the PayTV Market Investigation, several stakeholders, including BSkyB, responded late to these submissions. BSkyB submitted its response on the PayTV Market Investigation over six weeks after the 26 February 2008 deadline.
  3. We have received a number of supplementary submissions from stakeholders after deadline dates which we are bound to consider. The most recent one from BSkyB arrived as late as 13 August 2008.
  4. BSkyB has raised a series of procedural points throughout this period, including a repeated concern that we are spending insufficient time considering its arguments."
Extract from Ofcom statement

It would seem that perhaps there is no love lost between the two parties here, one thing is for certain any tit for tat exchanges that prolong any decision make it easier for a new entrant to sneak into the market.

Comments

Posted by billford over 8 years ago
A nice whimsical title :-)
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
Ofcom says:

Ofcom response to Sky's statement on its "Picnic" proposal

As Ofcom announced in May 2008, we are currently considering BSkyB’s Picnic proposal in conjunction with the PayTV Market Investigation.

The Picnic proposal raises complex issues, and is likely to have a significant effect on the future development of the PayTV market as a whole. As all parties are aware, Ofcom will very shortly issue a further consultation document. Any decision to suspend the project is entirely a business matter for BSkyB.
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
Ofcom rejects the implications of BSkyB’s comments today and would highlight the following facts:



Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
1. Having announced Picnic in a press statement in February 2007, BSkyB took two months to submit the necessary application and a further two months to provide sufficient information to enable Ofcom to publish a consultation document on the matter.

2. When Ofcom consulted on both the Picnic proposal and the PayTV Market Investigation, several stakeholders, including BSkyB, responded late to these submissions. BSkyB submitted its response on the PayTV Market Investigation over six weeks after the 26 February 2008 deadline.
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
3. We have received a number of supplementary submissions from stakeholders after deadline dates which we are bound to consider. The most recent one from BSkyB arrived as late as 13 August 2008.

4. BSkyB has raised a series of procedural points throughout this period, including a repeated concern that we are spending insufficient time considering its arguments.

Ofcom’s objective is to conclude this work as efficiently as possible while carrying out our duties to promote competition in the interests of consumers and citizens.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Hmmm so lets get this right, ofcom are happy to bicker with sky about whether they will or wont allow them a bundle service of phone, broadband and another new (relatively speaking) TV service, but BTs Vision was allowed no issues and BT visions newish (around a couple of months now) subscription charges ofcom dont bate an eyelid at?? Ah modern day regulation and who is in bed with who..... you have to laugh or otherwise you will cry.
Posted by carrot63 over 8 years ago
>Ah modern day regulation and who is in bed with who

Particularly given this story:

http://www.ispreview.co.uk/news/EkkEkpuyuuPOTsSmfI.html
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
BT Vision subscription services are nothing to do with freeview, but rather IPTV. The freeview component of BT Vision remains freeview.

The subscription content is delivered over the ADSL connection.
Posted by c_j_ over 8 years ago
Do BT Vision own a complete set of programme content, transmission methods, conditional access methods, and a global network of TV channels, newspapers, and even book publishers in which to promote their latest projects? The Murdoch empire does.

BT Retail seem to have a bad case of "revolving door director" syndrome: their CTO leaves and goes to Phorm, and their MD of Retail Strategy (as per carrot63) comes in from the cold at Ofcom...
Posted by miketuck3r over 8 years ago
CARPETBURN , i fail to see any validity in your point at all.

BTVision added services to complement freeview not take some away and make them paytv..
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
miketuck3r: so you work for BT, and can prove this???

full proof, please....
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
as I understand it sky picnic was going to be priced quite high, due to the fact the contracts were monthly, and that there was no need to sign up to multiple products. Did ofcom object because they thought monthly contracts were uncompetitive, I am curious for more details.
Posted by ETEE over 8 years ago
The issue has been tied in with Sky and competition issues on DTT. Sky power could dominate pay TV on DTT like it has done on satellite. Also Freeview would lose a number of SD channels when there is already a shortage. Competition issues always take time and Sky is already appealing against the decision to force it to sell a stake in ITV.

Like all bullies, Sky is a very bad loser and throws its toys out of the pram when it doesn't get its way.

Sky was free to go ahead with iPtv, phone and BB but surprisingly has decided not to proceed with this. Why not?
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
comnut - BT Vision box is a Freeview PVR with an ethernet connection to broadband to download content.
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
Somerset: yes, and this text is black.....

I was asking miketuck3r, NOT about box that BT uses, but the SERVICE that complements this, and how he can be sure BT will not remove or start charging for these....
Posted by miketuck3r over 8 years ago
chrysalis, wow so explain to me how BT who does not own any channels on freeview can somehow remove these channels and make them PPV without a magic wand without either purchasing channels and getting ofcom approval

The exact point was that somehow btvision being approved has some relation to picnic not be approved IT CLEARLY DOES NOT one removed current free channels that sky comited to being 'free' on 'freeview'

The other provides additional content using IPTV
Posted by miketuck3r over 8 years ago
/\ chrysalis=somerset
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"BT Vision subscription services are nothing to do with freeview, but rather IPTV. The freeview component of BT Vision remains freeview.
The subscription content is delivered over the ADSL connection."
The story states "Sky Picnic was to have centered around a broadband, telephone and TV service that used a custom set-top box providing three subscription channels using digital terrestrial TV."
Custom set-top box.... Optional 3 subscription channels..... Im sorry the difference apart from the delivery method between this and BT vision is what again??????? Sound very similar to me.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Another case of INCONSISTANT regulation, carrot63 post and linkhttp://www.ispreview.co.uk/news/EkkEkpuyuuPOTsSmfI.html
speaks volumes.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
Picnic involved the removal of three freeview channels that everyone with freeview can receive, and replacing them with 3 subscription channels, and you needed the Sky Picnic box to receive them too.

Perhaps websites with video subscription should also seek Ofcom approval.

While I understand the pathological view of BT by some, allowing this to cloud judgement can be dangerous
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
yep, you dont have to get freeview from BT or sky... you can get a freeview box anywhere..
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
I think peeps need to the facts straight... AFAICS, they were planning to offer SKY one, sports & movies in addition to freeview, that are not normally there... very old news, so please correct if needed...

I dont see why this went off-topic, except that some think BT 'went to bed with' an ofcom person, and made sky jealous...
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
ok thanks andrew that clarifies it better.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
interestingly depending on how they were priced, been able to get sky sports on freeview does indeed benefit the consumer, as you wouldnt need to subscribe to channel mixes on top of it. So if thats the only reason then the consumer has probably lost out.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Picnic involved the removal of three freeview channels that everyone with freeview can receive, and replacing them with 3 subscription channels"

If those 3 channels are owned by sky i do not see the issue, if they are not though then i can see why a fuss would be made, channels come and go on freeview all the time... A good example is Men and Motors... That use to be on freeview but is no longer.
Posted by dragon1945 over 8 years ago
I can't even get Free Sky Broadband, and my monthly subscription has gone up again. If Freeview worked here, or Virgin laid out cable [no chance of that] I would tell Sky where to stick their overinflated prices.
When we first had Sky I got the whole Sky package including films and sport for £26 a month. Then came pay per view and "the best of films and sport" became "but only if you pay per view". The subscription wasn't reduced for the lesser service. Now I pay £18 for 2 packages, only 1 of which I ever watch, but I can't have just 1 package. Adding Sport and Films is just too expensive.
Posted by DaveCheltenham over 8 years ago
Sky were not just replacing the 3 channels but required a different box/modulation and encryption to receive the proposed 4 channels.

They cannot have been all that interested; otherwise their responses would have been timelier. They can still bid in the future when the digital dividend spectrum is auctioned off.
Posted by mrtweaks over 8 years ago

Dragon1945 If you want freeview why not try the FreeSat service you can even get it with HD? You pay a one off charge for installation of dish and decoder. http://www.freesat.co.uk/
Posted by dragon1945 over 8 years ago
I already have a Sky satellite dish mrtweaks, and I'm a widowed pensioner so can't afford to pay for a second unneeded dish. If I could just get the set top box at a reasonable price I might be interested. Thanx anyway.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
CARPETBURN: It's an "issue" because they agreed to provide the channels. Channels come and go via agreement, and Sky were slow in making the agreement.

Then they threw their toys out the pram. That's all.
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
DaveCheltenham: very true, either they are starting to 'lose sight of things' due to getting too big, or they are just not really bothered, just 'going through the motions'...
Posted by middleton-smith over 8 years ago
Dragon1945 I was in the same situation but have switched to Freesat from Sky, eliminating subscription charges (I loathe the Sky package system, making you pay for rubbish channels in orde to get 1 or 2 useful ones). You use your existing Sky dish & box - all you need to gain access to the free channels available on the digital satellite platform is a 'Freesat from Sky viewing card' for a one-off payment of £20. To purchase a viewing card phone Sky on 08448 244 400
Posted by middleton-smith over 8 years ago
Dragon1945 I was in your situation but have switched to Freesat from Sky, eliminating subscription charges (loathe the Sky package system, making you pay for rubbish channels just to get 1/2 useful ones). Using your existing Sky dish & box - all you need is a 'Freesat from Sky viewing card' for a one-off payment of £20(purchase from Sky on 08448 244 400)
Posted by CaptainW over 8 years ago
@ middleton and dragon1945
Sky cancel option: You need to buy a freesatfromsky viewing card if he switches his sky subscription off, your current card effectivley becomes a freesat card - save on that £20.
Freesat option: You can just buy a freesat STB, you don't have to include the installation as you already have a dish - see here: http://freesat.co.uk/index.php?page=products.Main
Posted by CaptainW over 8 years ago
......amendment to above msg
I meant to write that you DO NOT need to buy another viewing card if you cancel your Sky subscription
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Sky were not just replacing the 3 channels but required a different box/modulation and encryption to receive the proposed 4 channels."
I still fail to see what the fuss is when/if freeview via aerial HD arrives that will need a different box to what we all have now anyway (MHEG5/MPEG2 wont cut it)
Sounds to me just like another excuse from ofcom to stay in the bed of their chums refuse competition. I fail to see what the issue is about them delivering 3 sub channels instead also... CONT
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Dont you already have to have a viewing card from sky to watch ITV? Which is ITVs fault not skys... BTvision, dont you have to have BT broadband for the extra services? I fail to see why those 2 examples are allowed to force a platform on people if you want certain services but sky are not. Stinks of more unfair and inconsistant regulation to me.
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
Digital TV in the UK is based on replacing boxes every few years...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Digital TV in the UK is based on replacing boxes every few years..."

Correct infact some setpal chipset freeview boxes are already useless....
http://www.freeview.co.uk/help/faq/id104963
If you google around they a couple are literally doorstops now unable to tune channels at all.... When you have to replace your freeview box it seems another reason its silly they have basically said no to sky
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
heck, even SKY boxes have to be replaced after a few years!! - Unless you want to wait almost a second for each keypress to work, due to old harware not being good enough for the new software!!

I know this 'cos my old box went bad (well out of warranty) -while I was waiting for the new one, I used a mates 10 year old one.. like swimming in treacle!!!
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