BSkyB has published its response to the BBC Trust consultation on on-demand syndication, describing the regulatory body’s policy towards the delivery of BBC content over the existing installed base of connectable set-top boxes as “bizarre”.
As it stands BSkyB would be unable to run the BBC iPlayer on its connected set-top boxes or include BBC content as part of its Anytime on demand service.
The BBC has proposed to turn down requests for ‘bespoke’ versions of the iPlayer for use by single platforms or devices as a matter of course, only accepting them if the BBC’s costs for development and maintenance were fully reimbursed. It has also said BBC programmes should only be made available to platform operators through the BBC iPlayer and not on a programme-by-programme basis.
Sky believes the approach is unnecessarily restrictive and takes issue with not being regarded as an exceptional case, despite the 3.5 million connectable set-top boxes it has deployed, effectively its growing Sky+ HD base. Sky argues that this puts it in a different situation to Virgin, which is in the process of rolling out its new TiVo connected boxes. The cable operator itself has previously expressed concerns that it too is being forced down a particular route by the BBC.
Sky suggests that the backwards EPG proposed by the BBC-led connected TV project YouView might also fall foul of the BBC Trust’s guidelines were it to introduce its much-touted backwards EPG, though Broadband TV News understands YouView to be confident it does not. “The Trust’s proposals appear incompatible with the BBC’s own YouView project, are inconsistent with the approach taken for on-demand public service content other than full length TV programmes, allow existing ‘disaggregated products’ to co-exist indefinitely, and cost more than alternative solutions,” says the Sky submission.
Sky believes a hybrid approach would provide better value for money by reducing the costs of distributing its content and reducing the number of versions required by the iPlayer.