Ofcom to investigate Sky’s plans to replace Freeview channels

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Ofcom says it will investigate BSkyB’s plans to scrap its Freeview channels and replace them with a subscription TV service.

In a statement, the media regulator says it will launch a consultation into the new service shortly to determine whether the proposed change to the current line-up is in viewers’ interest.

Sky wants to remove the three free channels it broadcasts on Freeview and replace them with four new 24-hour pay-only stations, which would show content including Premiership football and movies.

The satellite giant announced last week that it wanted to launch the service in the summer, pending approval by Ofcom, as reported on marketingweek.co.uk.

Ofcom says it will look at factors including: the potential detriment following a reduction in the number of channels received by existing set-top boxes or digital televisions; the risk that existing set-top boxes or TVs would be incompatible with the new technology Sky is mooting and the overall effect on consumer confidence in the digital switchover process.

Ofcom further says it will look at whether any variation to the channel line-up might "unacceptably diminish" the appeal of the channels to a variety of tastes and interests and whether a reduction in the current range of free-to-air channels would be compensated for by the proposed introduction of the new pay television channels.

The consultation will be launched when Ofcom receives an official request for approval from Sky. Ofcom’s normal consultation period is ten weeks.

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