LONDON: UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB is planning to offer a slimmed-down version of its pay-television service designed to attract viewers who do not want 100-plus channels offered by the 'full-fat' choice.

The new Picnic brand will debut next year via an adapted Freeview digital set-top box. It will offer subscribers premium Sky Sports 1, Sky Movies and Sky One channels which until now have only been available via satellite or cable.

The service, which Sky has been fine-tuning since the beginning of the year, needs regulatory approval from Ofcom.

The media watchdog is currently considering the broadcaster's request to remove three of its digital channels from the free-to-air Freeview platform.

The pricing structure of the Picnic service is being kept under wraps but is thought to be between £20 and £25. Telephone and broadband services would also be available.

Says Sky ceo James Murdoch: "The launch . . . will be a big step forward for customers who are hungry for value and simplicity."

If Picnic does get Ofcom's green light it will be another blow for cable rival Virgin Media which lost Sky's channels from its platform following a spat over carriage fees.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff