Top Up TV launches Picnic appeal

Top Up TV has launched an appeal against Ofcom proposals to allow Sky to run its proposed ‘Picnic’ pay-TV service on the UK DTT platform.

One of the four original complainants that sparked the three-year old Pay-TV Review, Top Up TV says Ofcom’s conclusions that any anti-competive impacts would be avoided or outweighed by the wholesale must offer on Sky Sports were “without any factual basis and flawed”.

The DTT paycaster claims the regulator failed to recognize the full strength of the ability and incentive of Sky to prejudice competition.

This is the first appeal against Ofcom’s proposals to allow Sky to run the Picnic service that would combine a mini-pay package with broadband access and telephony services. The other complaints from Sky, BT, Virgin Media and the FAPL, lodged earlier this month with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, relate to the wholesale must offer.

Arguably Top Up TV has the most to lose from the launch of Picnic. However, if it was able to strike a deal with BT to use the Arqiva/BBC capacity the telco has leased for the relay of Sky Sports 1 and 2 to its BT Vision subscribers, then it would in theory be able to compete on a more even playing field.

Ofcom, which yesterday confirmed it would allow the withdrawal of Sky Sports News from the pay platform, has today granted permission for the broadcast of the channels.

The BBC/Arqiva capacity has in part been freed as a result of digital switchover, though the reshuffle of capacity to make way for HD channels on Multiplex B has also resulted in the closure of some interactive services, such as the BBC News Multiscreen.