Sky could be landed with a bill for carrying the BBC’s TV channels if it doesn’t agree to axe the cost of being listed in the Sky Guide.
The BBC has been campaigning since 2010 to abolish the almost £5m it pays annually for its 49 TV and radio channels to be listed in the Sky Guide, but the latest threat raises the stakes.
The campaign has been supported by Channel 4 and culture minister Ed Vaizey, but the BBC’s policy and strategy director John Tate this week said: “This free ride needs to stop.”
He told TV industry magazine Broadcast: “Sky should do the decent thing and stop charging licence fee payers to carry BBC services that, in reality, underpin their ability to generate enormous profits.”
The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 currently contribute around £9.5m to Sky each year for their listings in the Sky Guide, as well as the Sky On Demand catch-up TV service.
Sky began reducing the BBC’s fees from £10m in 2010, to £4.4m a year in 2014, and claims it is fairly recouping the costs of hosting the channels and developing its service.
“Public service broadcasters benefit from the billions of pounds we’ve invested in our TV platform, and the technical services we provide them,” Sky added.
“Thanks to Sky’s investment, they reach 40 per cent of their audiences via our platform and use our technology to customise channels and services for the benefit of their viewers.”
The BBC faces a new TV Licence renewal debate in 2016, but is hoping the government’s forthcoming Communications Bill will focus the Sky Guide fees row in its favour.