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The BBC and other broadcasters are planning to cut their investment in the YouView set-top box, leaving BT and TalkTalk as the major shareholders. This is a blow to a platform which was originally created to safeguard the future of FTA television in the UK.
YouView has become the fastest growing TV service in the UK. However, thanks to content sharing agreements, TalkTalk customers now have access to a wide range of Sky programmes, including all its sports channels. It is jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, mast company Arqiva and the telecoms groups BT and TalkTalk. But the licence fee-funded technology has largely benefited the pay-TV offerings of the two telecoms companies.
Of the 1 million+ homes with YouView, just 3 per cent are estimated to have bought one direct from a retailer. The unsubsidised box costs £229 (€269) and the vast majority of homes have received one bundled free with a BT or TalkTalk pay-TV subscription.
Some observers say the BBC is running scared of using public money in a private company after the scandals over pay-offs and DMI.