BSkyB puts Picnic plans on hold

BSkyB is putting plans for its Freeview subscription service Picnic on hold due to the lengthy delay caused by an Ofcom investigation into the pay TV market.

Sky revealed plans to launch three premium subscription channels alongside telephone and broadband services on the Freeview platform last year. The service would replace Sky’s free channels, Sky News, Sky Three and Sky Sports News, and customers would need to buy a new digital box to receive the package.

It has not ruled out launching Picnic at a later date, but says that the resources and personnel that were allocated to the project are now being placed elsewhere.

A Sky spokesman says: “The blunt truth is that Ofcom has spent 18 months looking at our proposals and there is no end in sight. The Picnic team have done everything they can to prepare for launch and there’s nothing left to be achieved until Ofcom makes its mind up.”

In May, Ofcom published a number of responses to a consultation on the pay TV market. It said that stakeholders had raised issues about Sky’s Picnic proposal with partner National Grid Wireless that would inform the market investigation.

It added: “Engagement with stakeholders has confirmed that the issues regarding the Sky/NGW proposal, such as access to premium content, need to be considered alongside the wider market investigation.”

The Disney Channel signed up last November as the first third party brand for Picnic.

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