Advanced Television

Sky: no more new channels

October 9, 2007

Sky is calling a halt to new channels on its platform in a move that is bound to lead to bidding battles between companies seeking valuable slots on its electronic programming guide (EPG).

Sky has said that it will “cease to take further applications for places in the EPG launch queue” and will proceed with “extreme caution” launching the 100 or so TV and radio channels already on the list.

“After a very careful consideration we have taken the decision to make these changes in order to safeguard the interests of both viewers and platform users,” said Nicola Bamford, director of channels and operations at Sky said in a letter to prospective channels.

“Our goal is to provide a high quality viewer experience and a stable environment for all platform users, while maintaining the principle that access to the EPG should be available without discrimination to broadcasters.” Sky has cited “very significant memory constraints in several models of boxes” for the change.

Under Ofcom’s regulations Sky must give carriage to channels on “fair and reasonable terms”. It has more than 600 channels on its EPG, up from 200 at launch. It charges approximately £78,000 (E113,000) a year for the slots

Sky plans to allow would-be broadcasters to buy slots from existing channels, thereby sparking auctions – many current channels will doubtless find trading their slot the most profitable part of the business.

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