BBC take BSkyB costs to task

Local BBC, facing cutsThe BBC has suggested that the charges BSkyB request in order to broadcast the corporations channels are too expensive and ditching them could save planned cuts to local BBC radio services and BBC4.


The BBC has suggested that the charges BSkyB request in order to broadcast the corporations channels are too expensive.

If the commercial satellite network was to shelve charges for carrying the BBC networks it is believed that over five years £50 million could be saved, enough to save planned cuts to BBC Local Radio and television channel BBC 4.

Beeb figures reveal that the corporation pays circa £10 million per year to BSkyB to carry over 40 radio and television channels.

John Tate, the corporation’s director of policy and strategy, is reported as saying in The Guardian that, “Sky have taken a lot of risks and they’ve done an excellent job in putting money into UK original content”, however with the BBC throwing their dummy out of the pram because they didn’t get a licence increase he feels everyone should share the BBC’s cost cutting problems, adding “in the context of a very tight licence fee settlement, payment from us to them of retransmission of what are to them highly valuable services is not appropriate.”

The high volume of service content from the BBC on Sky is due in essence to enabling viewers of BBC One to obtain the correct local news and regional programming across the English regions, Scotland and Wales.

Local BBC, facing cutsSome believe the quality service the Beeb provide to UK television and radio is something Sky should be paying to have on their platform, after all Sky charges viewers to watch their satellite service and the BBC is arguably a valued asset within that output. If the BBC was removed from Sky it would mean viewers would have to tune over to Freeview, which could be quite an issue for viewers who do not have that service readily available via a Freeview inclusive television set.

Tate however stressed he is not looking for Sky to pay the BBC for their output. Instead he believes, it appears, that a deal where the BBC is carried for free on Sky, with BSkyB not charging the corporation either would be the best solution.

The BBC along with other public service content providers including Channel 4, Channel 5 and even ITV – who are loosely still a PSB provider – are requesting the concept of retransmission fees are investigated by the regulator with a view to changing the system.

In America broadcasters have successfully started to charge platforms to take their content, this system interests many UK commercial broadcasters who feel it is quite right that Sky should pay to show their channels.