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Channel 5 owner calls for digital TV “level playing field”

Richard Desmond, the owner of Channel 5 has called on the government to defend public sector broadcasters (PSBs) from Sky and Amazon.

He said that his channel as well as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are over-regulated and will find competition against satellite broadcasters and internet streaming services difficult without some kind of intervention.

“Some very big bets on the future of television are being made by platforms and operators that don’t have any PSB obligations at all,” he said in a rare speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention. “BT, Virgin and Sky operate in a way that was never conceived of by the current system of regulation. And giants like Google, Amazon and Apple don’t fall within the scope of regulation at all.”

Read more about the Sky Guide fees rowHe said that he was worried that the “playing field is levelled against those of us who are trying to protect the incredible heritage of public service broadcasting.”

He said there were problems with regulation of television services in the UK. One such problem was with the multi-million pound fees it had to pay to Sky for their channels to feature on the platform.

He added that TV channels, such as his and other PSBs should actually be paid by Sky as they bring the majority of viewing figures to the channel.

“PSBs should be able to charge pay-tv platforms for the benefits they get from offering the UK’s most popular TV channels,” he said.

He said that if public broadcasters were not allowed to complete fairly, it would put them in a position that would be “impossible to recover from”.

The Channel 5 boss added: “I am fine with regulation where it is fair and flexible. But if it limits growth, stops us being strong and – ultimately – fails the viewer, then in my view it is wrong.”

As reported by Recombu, while UK channels pay fees to Sky to have their channels appear on the TV guide, in the US the reverse happens with satellite and cable networks paying public networks millions of dollars each year for channel carriage.



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