their three free-to-air channels, Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three, from Freeview (Digital Terrestrial Television, DTT) to replace them with five pay TV channels. This will also require new Freeview equipment for those wishing to subscribe.
I don’t mind Freeview having subscription services on it – indeed, if it did, there would be even less argument than ever for the unique way the BBC is funded by the tellytax rather than through subscriber choice*.
The issue, of course, is that removing Sky News from the free-to-air channels on Freeview will be a serious blow to consumer choice and broadcasting competition, leaving only the BBC providing readily available rolling news coverage on Freeview.
Therefore, Biased BBC calls upon everyone who cares about our democracy and freedom of choice in news services on Freeview to object to this proposal, at least in so far as it affects the availability of Sky News on Freeview.
* Not surprisingly, when Freeview came into being, the BBC, acting in its own narrow self-interest as usual (rather than the public interest you would expect of a tax-funded public service), ensured that there was no requirement in the Freeview standard for Freeview boxes to have provision for subscription services – with the result that many current boxes aren’t subscription capable. (Though what the BBC didn’t bargain on of course is that the price of Freeview equipment has fallen so dramatically that their self-interested ‘fixing’ of the standard is rapidly ceasing to be a valid objection to the BBC becoming a subscription service).
Thank you to Biased BBC reader Ali P.