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Broadcasters to reduce YouView investment in favour of Freeview – UPDATED

The BBC and other broadcasters are reportedly planning to reduce the amount of money given to YouView. 

YouView’s seven partners – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva – are currently discussing renewing a shareholder agreement. 

The Guardian cites unnamed YouView partners claiming that the BBC is seeking to cut its funding following concerns that public licence fee money is being used to support the rollout of private pay TV platforms. 

Broadcasters to reduce YouView investment in favour of Freeview
The BBC holds a 14.3 per cent stake in YouView

While over 1 million YouView boxes have been sold to date, the vast majority (732,000) of these are TalkTalk TV boxes. TalkTalk TV is sold as an add on to TalkTalk broadband and gives customers the option to sign up for premium Sky content and other ‘TV Boosts’ for an extra cost. 

BT’s YouView offering is sold alongside regular BT Broadband and BT Infinity fibre-based broadband as bundled deals. These start at £15/month and £22/month respectively, with the latter Infinity deal giving you 18 Extra TV channels (including Discovery, Comedy Central and Fox). BT customers can also sign up for BT Sport as well as additional HD and kids channels

It’s thought that while the PSB broadcasters and Arqiva will seek to reduce the funding it contributes to YouView, they will remain shareholders of the company. 

BBC and YouView spokespeople didn’t comment on the rumours but said that a new shareholder agreement should be finalised next month. The BBC spokesperson said: “We are committed to YouView and are confident of finalising the renewed shareholders agreement by the end of March.” 

YouView spokesperson added that YouView is currently the fastest growing TV service in the UK and all of the shareholders are pleased with the progress made in the 18 months since launch. 

Since launch, YouView has expanded its on-demand library to include catch-up content from Dave, Really and Yesterday and S4C as well adding improved accessibility features. 

Broadcasters including the BBC are expected to focus their efforts on supporting subscription-free Freeview and Freesat. Freeview is available in over 11 million UK homes while Freesat is watched in over 1.8 million premises. 

Update: The BBC Trust has called on the BBC to review the amount of money it spends on YouView. The Trust’s report states: 

“Its support of YouView, the IP-enabled TV platform that operates as a hybrid with a DTT tuner, was predicated on the platform’s availability at no ongoing subscription cost (i.e. consumers would be able to purchase a YouView device for a one-off payment). 

“In practice, nearly all YouView “sales” have been of subsidised equipment offered by sponsoring ISPs in exchange for a subscription payment of some kind. This may have implications for the BBC’s strategy of promoting “free” access to its services, and is likely to form an element of a platform review by the BBC which is currently under way.”

The report also highlights that the BBC has secured a ‘zero payment regime,’ meaning it doesn’t have to pay to have BBC channels featured on YouView, whereas the BBC pays £9 million a year for channels to appear on Sky and Freesat. 

The BBC currently spends roughly £6 million a year to cover its share of YouView’s operating costs.





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