BSkyB concerned by BBC broadband role

The UK government's suggestion that the BBC should be part of the drive to make broadband universal in the UK would distort markets and distract the broadcaster from its main purpose in making programmes, BSkyB has suggested in its submission to the Digital Britain review headed by Lord Carter, the communications minister, BSkyB said the operations of the market should be allowed to meet the UK's needs.

In the interim version of its report, Lord Carter's team suggested that the BBC could use money from the licence fee to help promote the adoption of broadband by the 40 per cent of the population who still do not have it.

BSkyB contends this would be a potentially damaging move. “The suggestion that the BBC should become involved in driving broadband take-up by setting technical standards and developing new platforms raises concerns. As well as the potential for market distortion, it sets a dangerous precedent and risks distracting the BBC from its core purpose, which is to invest in public service content and to make it widely available to licence fee payers on whichever platforms and services they choose to use.”

BSkyB expressed fears that the BBC would unfairly promote its own content-playing platforms, such as the iPlayer and 'Project Canvas', a technology designed to marry programme viewing over the Internet and on conventional television. The submission also raised objections to Digital Britain's concentration on providing direct or indirect support to free-to-air commercial channels, particularly Channel 4 as a means of providing so-called public-service broadcasting. BSkyB, which wants a market-based approach to the growth of broadband across the UK as well, added that preserving the current model of PSB with the BBC and a 'PSB2' based on Channel 4, is unlikely to be sustainable.

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