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Sky questions BBC programme bids

July 1, 2008

BSkyB has said that the BBC should not be allowed to bid for Hollywood films or US TV series and that Channel 4’s claim of a potential £150 million (E187.5m) funding gap is “open to challenge”, in its submission to Ofcom’s second review of public service broadcasting.

BSkyB said the BBC was obliged to focus on areas the market was not serving well, “where there is a real deficit in provision”. “The BBC should step back entirely from other areas. In particular, there is no justification for the BBC using public money to outbid commercial broadcasters for Hollywood films and US series,” the company added.

BSkyB said the fact the BBC was spending £100m a year on acquired programming and “appears to be increasingly aggressive in this area” is a “clear signal that its existing remit and governance structure is fundamentally flawed”.

The satellite broadcaster is also sceptical of Channel 4’s claim that it cannot continue to deliver its PSB obligations without the equivalent of as much as £150m a year in support. “This proposition is open to challenge. After all, its revenues have continued to grow overall, by nearly 25 per cent over the past four years, even as competition has increased,” Sky said.

The satellite broadcaster’s argument is that there is “no evidence of an impending crisis” in the provision of UK public service broadcasting and that the debate has “consistently failed” to take into account the role of multichannel TV and the Internet in providing high-quality content.

Sky also said the assumption that ITV and Five should be able to drop their public service broadcasting obligations as the value of analogue spectrum subsidies dwindle, needs to be looked at more closely.

“After all, spectrum used for terrestrial television broadcasting, including gifted digital terrestrial television [Freeview] capacity, is scare and remains highly valuable, as Ofcom points out frequently,” the satellite broadcaster said in its submission.

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