Sky denounces BBC on-demand distribution

Sky’s response to the BBC Trust on the syndication guidelines for BBC on-demand television content heavily criticises the decision to limit the content to BBC “aggregation products”, i.e. YouView / iPlayer.

Sky says “[we] support the wide distribution of BBC public service content, including BBC on-demand content” but added “the fundamental principle of broad distribution of publicly funded content should lie at the heart of the Trust’s evaluation of on-demand syndication.” It said the BBC Trust’s Provisional Conclusions adopt an unnecessarily restrictive approach to the syndication of long form, on-demand TV content, by proposing to limit the distribution of such content solely to “BBC aggregation products”, namely the iPlayer, which will only be made available in three ‘standard’ technologies. These iPlayer versions will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances, and at the expense of the relevant platform operator.

The Provisional Conclusions suggest that Sky is not an “exceptional case”, despite the fact that its installed base of over 3.5 million broadband enabled STBs are unable to support any of the BBC’s ‘standard’ iPlayer versions. “The knowing exclusion of existing licence fee payers demonstrates that the Trust has not acted in the public interest in draft syndication policy,” states Sky.

Sky concluded that the Provisional Conclusions and Draft Policy should not be adopted without substantial changes and are not in accordance with the BBC’s obligation to make its services widely available.