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Sky may get permission for another Picnic

UK pay TV operator BSkyB may receive clearance to launch a package of pay channels on UK free-to-air digital terrestrial service Freeview, according to press reports. However, it is not certain that Sky would embrace the idea.

The News Corp-backed pay-TV company was planning to launch such a service, but shelved plans in late 2008, citing regulatory uncertainty. At the time it said it would revisit the idea later. However, reports in the UK press this weekend suggest that communications regulator Ofcom is about to clear Sky to launch such a service. Viewers would need a new set-top to see the Sky channels.

Ofcom is expected this week to order Sky to cut the price at which it wholesales channels to service providers, including Virgin Media and BT, by about 20%. Virgin Media and BT are widely expected to launch low-cost offers to take market share from Sky. However, the latter has already said it will seek a judicial review of any price cut.