BSkyB’s group commercial director Rob Webster has hit back at the BBC after the commercial broadcaster claimed Sky should drop the £10 million (€11 million) in fees it charges to retransmit its 49 TV and radio channels.
The BBC is lobbying for the charges to be dropped in the face of substantial cuts but Webster, in a Guardian website blog posting, said the BBC was no different to other broadcasters that pay Sky an Ofcom-regulated fee to use platform services including EPG listing, regionalisation, interactive services and conditional access.
He said broadcasters weren’t obliged to buy the full range of services from Sky, and pointed to the fact that ITV initially decided to stay off the platform until it “recognised that the commercial benefits of doing so far outweighed the costs”.
Webster highlighted the fact that the £10 million the BBC pays Sky should balanced against what it pays other suppliers, including the £12.5 million on taxis, £19.6 million on hotels and £7.5 million on trains it spent last year. “Of course, it’s understandable that tight budgets mean the BBC is seeking to save money where it can. But can it be fair that, of all the BBC’s suppliers, Sky should be singled out and asked to offer a free ride? We think not.”
Webster said it was just to ask broadcasters to pay a “fair and proportionate share of the costs” of using its platform, considering the pay TV operator has invested over £1 billion in it. “Our current platform charges of £10m represent just a small fraction of the £181m that the corporation spends annually to distribute its TV and radio services,” Webster said.