goes in the clear on digital satellite
BBC today (Wednesday 12 March 2003) announced that from 30 May it
will, for the first time, broadcast its eight TV channels unencrypted
on digital satellite.
means that digital satellite viewers in the UK will, in the future,
be able to receive the BBC channels without a Sky viewing card,
through any make of digital satellite receiver. Current and future
Sky subscribers will still be able to receive all the BBC's services.
It also means
that the BBC will save an estimated £85 million over the next
five years because it will no longer be using BSkyB's Conditional
the savings, £40 million will be used to improve access to
all the BBC's regional services on digital satellite (DSAT). The
BBC national services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus,
for the first time, all 15 regional variations of BBC ONE in England
will all be available on DSAT and listed together on Sky's Electronic
Programme Guide (EPG).
Greg Dyke said: "This is an important decision for the BBC
which will save us a considerable amount of money. It will also
bring new benefits to viewers right across the country, will broaden
the appeal of digital satellite and enable as many people as possible
to get the BBC's digital channels.
first time ever, all the BBC's regional and national services will
be available to viewers right across the UK. This means that a Scot
living in London can get BBC ONE Scotland, or a native of Yorkshire,
living in Cornwall could watch regional programmes from their home
has been triggered by two events. Firstly, the BBC's five year contract
with BSkyB for conditional access ends in May, so alternative options
can be considered.
by moving all the BBC's services to the Astra 2D satellite, whose
signals are tightly focused, the BBC can limit broadcasting principally
to the UK. This removes the need to encrypt for rights purposes.
to ensure that satellite viewers continue to receive the right regional
version when they watch BBC ONE or BBC TWO, the BBC will need a
one-off change from Sky, for which it has offered to pay a fair
price, including a profit margin.
involves a simple adaptation to the EPG software which allows the
viewer to select the regional service they want so they always get
'their' BBC ONE or BBC TWO.
if this is not achieved, the BBC will still go ahead with broadcasting
its services unencrypted on DSAT.
There are currently 6.6 million Sky subscribers who will continue
to receive all the BBC channels. Anyone else with a Sky box, including
the estimated 1 million homes that have 'churned' out of subscription
or opted for a non subscription 'solus' card, will also continue
to receive the BBC's services.
Ever since the BBC started broadcasting on satellite, it has paid
Sky a fee for 'conditional access'. This has meant that the BBC's
signal is scrambled (encrypted) to ensure that it is only received
in the UK and that audiences get the right regional service for
where they live.
The BBC pays the uplink costs to the satellite and for the cost
of Astra satellite capacity. It paid Sky for conditional access
and a charge for listing on the EPG.
There are currently nearly 80 TV channels broadcasting in the clear
on satellite in Europe, plus 61 radio stations, including CNN, EuroNews
and Turner Classic Movies.
CNN currently pay Sky just under £30,000 for their EPG listing.
The BBC expects to pay a comparable price as it moves to an unencrypted
transmission and ceases to require conditional access.
The national and regional services available on the EPG will include
the 15 English regional versions of BBC ONE, plus the English-wide
version of BBC TWO, plus the national versions of BBC ONE and BBC
TWO in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The BBC will continue to support the other British public service
broadcasters to get a satellite 'must carry' clause as an amendment
to the Communications Bill, which is now heading for the House of
Lords. The BBC will also continue to argue for clarification in
the Bill that 'due prominence', under the ITC's EPG code, means
making the right regional service available via slots 101 and 102.