11.55 UPDATE: Ofcom has announced a consultation into plans by BSkyB to launch a pay-TV service on the UK DTT platform. The service would replace the three existing channels that broadcast under the Freeview banner. They are: Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three. Sky Text is also available.
The proposals have been made jointly by BSkyB and National Grid Wireless, the company that operates the DTT multiplex used by Sky.In a statement BSkyB reiterated its commitment to using the MPEG-4 compression standard and said that its boxes would be MPEG-2/4 compatible.
Ofcom’s plan is to issue a consultation document in the autumn, a process that normally lasts for a period of ten weeks, leading to an announcement early next year. BSkyB expressed disappointment that the process would not be completed sooner. “While is it regrettable that Ofcom feels unable to begin its consultation before the autumn, we’ll continue to engage fully with the review and work towards launching the service as soon as possible.”
Such a timetable would give a head start to Setanta in its delivery of Premiership football to DTT homes. It is expected that a Sky Sports channel would form part of the Sky pay offering.
Ofcom will be looking to ensure fair and effective competition for the benefit of consumers. In the meantime it has told NGW to ensure that Sky’s existing channels remain on the air.