Sky: BBC should pay share of retrans costs

10.04 Europe/London, October 20, 2011 By Julian Clover

BSkyB has said it is wrong for it to be singled out to provide free services to the BBC in the debate over the cost of the corporation’s carriage on the satellite platform.

In a blog post, Sky’s group commercial director Rob Webster, said the £10 million (€11.4 million) paid by the BBC for the distribution of its TV and radio content on Sky was no different to the £7.5 million paid in train fares, £12.5 million in taxis or £1.5 million spent on biscuits.
It has been suggested that BSkyB allow the BBC to have free carriage on the Sky platform, rather than pay the contribution to the platform, as made by remaining broadcasters.
“Unlike Virgin Media, the Sky platform is required by law to be open to all broadcasters. In practice, this means that more than 200 different broadcasters have chosen to use our platform to reach an audience of more than 25 million people,” said Webster. “Among them, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 benefit from guaranteed access to the Sky platform which has helped them to launch new digital channels and interactive services and to provide regionalised news programmes and advertising”.
According to Webster, Sky has made an investment of over £1 billion in its platform over the past decade and said it is only right that each broadcaster should pay a fair and proportionate share of the costs if they want the benefits. He added that Sky asks broadcasters to pay just 10% of the overall platform costs.
“The BBC is now lobbying for a change to the rules so that public service broadcasters (PSBs) shouldn’t have to pay for these services. In an unusual intervention in the commercial sector, it even claims that it is Sky that should be paying the likes of ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 for carrying their channels on our EPG. Both of those arguments overlook a number of important points”.
The BBC is already considering some of its digital radio services from Sky. In addition some regional TV news programmes – such as the 20-minute per day Cambridge opt-out – might be dropped.