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Sky Picnic back on the cards
Wednesday 31 March 2010 13:20:52 by John Hunt

Sky Picnic, a service combining broadband, telephone and a TV service that used freeview with a set-top box may be back on the cards following a ruling from Ofcom on Pay TV channels. Sky originally dropped the Picnic idea back in 2008 after Ofcom had failed to decide whether it would be allowed to proceed with the offering.

Today's ruling will allow Sky to offer pay TV services on freeview on the condition that they offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 on a wholesale offering to other providers, at a price set by Ofcom. The standalone cost for the channels in standard definition will be reduced by 23.4% of the current wholesale price to cable operators. The bundle cost of selling the channels will also decrease by 10.5%. Ofcom will not be setting a price for the high-definition version of the channels as they believe this flexibility will help promote future innovation.

Ofcom will also be consulting on whether they should refer Sky to the Competition Commission over rights to sell premium movies as they believe Sky have a hold on video-on-demand rights, but they cannot adequately address this under their powers.

Of course, Sky are not happy with this decision and are intending to appeal the decision through the courts. Sky's CEO, Jeremy Darroch has put up a video response to Ofcom's announcement.

"There should be no doubt that Ofcom's actions represent an unprecedented and unwarranted intervention.

This is a marketplace where customers are well served with high levels of choice and innovation. Consumers will not benefit if regulators blunt incentives to invest and take risks.

After three years of engagement with Ofcom, we now look forward to a judicial process which will apply impartial analysis and clear legal standards."

Sky spokesperson

Interestingly the decision hasn't totally pleased other providers such as BT who were calling for the Sports and Movie channels to be regulated to allow them to be sold competitively on their BT Vision platform.

"Today's decision from Ofcom is disappointing but a step in the right direction. We will at last be able to sell two premium sports channels. We aim to offer Sky Sports1 and 2 at lower prices than those which have been available. We hope to bring them to the market in time for the new Premiership football season but that will depend on Sky now complying with Ofcom's decision.

However, Ofcom should have gone much further than it did. They have dropped movie channels, which should have been included. They should have included all Sky Sports channels, not just two. The wholesale price for the two sports channels is higher than the regulator had previously suggested. Pubs and clubs should also have been offered some help as they have no option but to pay sky high prices. Ofcom has not set a regulated price for HD channels.

Sky may appeal against this decision but Ofcom's remedy should be implemented without delay so that customers can benefit from lower prices."

Gavin Patterson, (CEO) BT Retail


Posted by systemx over 7 years ago
Poor old OFCOM. Sky will just launch Sky football 1 and 2 with live content.

SS1 and SS2 will have live tiddley winks and re-runs of any old stuff.
Posted by jrawle over 7 years ago
Keep Sky and any other pay TV off terrestrial TV. Use the bandwidth for free-to-air content, preferable to improve the picture and sound quality, and to offer HD that isn't compressed to death.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
I'm not fan of Sky and their rip off prices but I really do not understand why Ofcom are dabbling here? These are Sky channels made by Sky surely its up to them what prices they charge?
Posted by djfunkdup over 7 years ago
what exactly do you expect to get for free..??..would you also like to get free dinner as you watch you FREE hd tv,and i am sure the power company you use would only be more than happy to provide you with FREE electricity...

get with the times its 2010
Posted by YaZiN over 7 years ago
I can only see another complete hash happening and ultimately it costing the consumer more in the long run (Setanta!!).

If other providers cannot be bothered to bid for the live TV rights then don't force Sky to drop there prices. Setanta had a perfectly good chance when Sky were prevented from buying the full set of Premiership rights, yet the consumer ended up paying more for the same number of games (Setanta + Sky subs) and (in the majority) had a worse customer experience with the hash of a service that Setanta offered.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Lets hope sky just say nah thanks to the whole picnic idea and not give into Ofcoms and BTs fantasys of getting their channels for next to nothing.
Ofcom are taking the mickey, they failed to make a ruling back in 2008 if sky should or shouldnt be allowed to use the freeview platform, now in typical fashion as BT are whining like beehatches, they are happy to let sky go ahead as long as they let BT rape them and have sky sports cheap..... I hope sky say (BLEEP) you Ofcom and BT.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Virgin have had to pay sky for years...... Ofcom never did anything about that, not even when Virgin could no longer afford sky one and other channels a few years back. (anyone remember that?)
Oh but now their buddys BT want to sniff around the sky platform and again make money off someone else services they are happy to poke their nose in........ Ofcom and BT make me sick. BT if you want Sky channels then BLEEPING well pay for them like Virgin and other cable companies have had to for years, stop whinging they want too much money and for once open your mothball wallet.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Oh and Ofcom think "Sky have a hold on video-on-demand rights, but they cannot adequately address this under their powers"
What have they been smoking? Virgin do Video on demand, and (correct me if wrong) so does BT vision.... My god Ofcom really are all up in BTs backside... Idiots.
Posted by rasczak over 7 years ago
Yes Carpetburn it is absolutely despicable that a company can have a near monopoly on a commercial service, and they are told that they have to provide that wholesale at a price determined by OFCOM, even if that price may be less that the cost to provide the service. That surely shouldn't be allowed should it.

I think you should look up hypocrisy.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"Yes Carpetburn it is absolutely despicable that a company can have a near monopoly on a commercial service"

So are they going to make BT provide Vision to anyone thats with a different or no provider? BT have a monopoly with the BT Vision TV service do they not? Sky atleast sell their service to others dont they? Hmm so sky allow others to buy their TV service, BT do not, hmm who is the monopoly? Me look up hypocrisy? Atleast i know the meaning.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Where were ofcom years ago when Sky wanted so much money Virgin couldnt afford it and lost rights to some sky channels? Funny how ofcom run to BTs aid everytime they cry like little girls but none of the other providers. Then again to BT fanboys thats probably the right thing.
Posted by jrawle over 7 years ago
@djfunkdup: TV is paid for by the licence fee and advertising. The airwaves belong to everyone, not to Rupert Murdoch. And I'm tired of being lied to about great digital picture and sound quality, when it's actually worse than the analogue service. Your comment shows you are not aware of the full range of issues when it comes to free-to-air broadcasting.

To use your analogy, Freeview will be like paying for a three course lunch and getting a small bowl of soup, a dry crust and a mouldy banana.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
sky sports 3 and sky sports 4 going to have football heading their way soon then. :)
good old ofcom always leaving loopholes in place.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
^^^ Or just shove it all on their HD channels and increase the wholesale price for those, while reducing the HD service cost to Skys own customers. Thats another way Sky can get around the BT and Ofcom buddy system and probably what i would do.
Posted by xb0xguru over 7 years ago
@jrawle - I forgot how bad DD5.1 was compared to Analog Stereo - silly me.

If your digital TV experience is worse than your analog one, I suggest either changing your TV provider, upgrading your entertainment system or a combination of both.
Posted by xb0xguru over 7 years ago

@CARPETBURN - the waters between Virgin and Sky's channels run deeper than that. Sky were selling the channels to Virgin and a highly discounted rate and the objection came from Virgin when the price was increased to what would work out as an extra £1 per month per subscriber. TBH, Virgin will continue to lose money until they are able to offer a secure service. There are too many people with dodgy boxes which is costing them millions of pounds a year in lost revenue.
Posted by xb0xguru over 7 years ago

@rasczak - a monopoly is only a monopoly when there have been unfair advantages along the way. Sky is funded by its subscribers and the sports channels were a huge risk to invest in. What we have here is private sector success being punished, where in fact we should be embracing it.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
@xb0xguru.... Thats my point exactly, where were ofcom then when sky increased pricing? Only reason Ofcom have spewed bile is because the infamous BT has whinged again about something which will cost them money. I also agree Sky TV in no way is a monopoly, they had to pay to get channel 5 and ITV channels onto their platform an amount what ITV wanted. Theres no reason BT should not pay Sky whatever they wish if they want rights to air their property.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
People moan about sky, perhaps they should remember with regards to their sports services, if it wasnt for them alot of sport wouldnt be available to watch on the TV in this country.
Posted by dirk5 over 7 years ago
Some ware along the line most of you are failing to remember that we are forced to buy a tv licence that should be providing these services for the licence fee we have paid.
And just one other thing why should we all prop up the likes of the Maxwell family
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"Some ware along the line most of you are failing to remember that we are forced to buy a tv licence that should be providing these services for the licence fee we have paid."

Yep, why are Ofcom not demanding the BBC buy rights to air certain football matches or popular TV series?

quote"And just one other thing why should we all prop up the likes of the Maxwell family"

We dont with regards to TV do we?
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