Enders warns PSBs to be careful what they wish for

October 17, 2014 10.50 Europe/London By Julian Clover
Enders Analysis has warned that commercial PSBs ITV and Channel 4 may not get the outcome they are seeking in their attempt to charge carriage fees for their primary free-to-air channels on the pay-TV platforms.

The broadcasters have asked for a review of the current regulatory environment, with ITV presenting a detailed analysis showing the contribution to the US creative economy following the introduction of Retransmission Content Compensation for free-to-air broadcasters in the US. However, Enders says the review fails to set this against the UKs structure and the privledges enjoyed.

We think the next government much more likely to consider the deregulation pathway, as [culture secretary] Sajid Javid suggested at the RTS conference where he spoke of the need to consider the retransmission question in conjunction with the EPG prominence of PSBs, although we think a full review would also need to take into account other PSB privileges in addition to those that affect them on the pay-TV platforms, says Enders in a note published Wednesday.

The Analyst suggests the imposition of a fee would effective amount to a tax that Sky and Virgin would then pass on to the consumer. At the same time, it does nothing to address the levelness of the playing field, this time with respect to the non-PSB multichannel sector, where many of the channels receive very modest, or do not actually receive, carriage fee payments.

Enders says the case for retransmission fees is weak with any review likely to be tied to the EPG prominence currently enjoyed by the UKs Big Five channels.