BBC vs BSkyB: ITC to Referee Roughhouse?

26 March 2003

Britain's publicly-owned BBC and Rupert Murdoch’s UK satellite monopoly BSkyB failed to patch up their quarrel when the two sides met last week. Both have since hauled up their respective drawbridges.

The cause of the spat was the BBC’s abrupt notice of withdrawal when its current £85 million ($134m; €125.15m) digital channel carriage agreement with BSkyB expires at the end of May. The public broadcaster will then switch to the new Astra 2D satellite saving, it claims, a considerable sum of money [WAMN: 19-Mar-03].

Sky hit back by threatening to oust the BBC from pole position on its electronic programming guide where channels BBC1 and BBC2 hold the coveted 101 and 102 slots. Relegation to more obscure hidey-holes on the EPG could result in a loss of viewers for the BBC channels.

The BBC responded by citing Independent Television Commission regulations which specify that public service broadcasters (which also include Channel 4) must be accorded a position of “due prominence” on Sky’s EPG. Should it lose its traditional rankings on the guide, the BBC will refer the matter to the ITC, said a spokesman.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff