back to article Sky ices Picnic, blames Ofcom

Sky today said it had put its planned terrestrial pay TV product "Picnic" on ice, blaming Ofcom's glacial decision-making. The regulator has been examining the proposals for 18 months now, and "there is no end in sight", a Sky spokesman said, "no business can go on like that". The firm still hopes to bring Picnic to market, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward



    Sky does nothing for this country but leech the money out of all of us.

    I have yet to see it produce anything by itself that was worth while.

    Everything it produces is either cheap crap or simply imported from overseas.

    Then it suddenly wanted to cancel its freeview channels which are of very little value as 2 of them are news channels alternative to which already exist, and Sky 3 is pants anyway, showing shows that were on Sky1 a few weeks eariler (or years in the case of some shows) and then shows advertising for large parts of the day and night.

    And replace them pay-only channels! I guess old rupert isnt making enough money by feeding us crap!

    And what really gets me is people buy his crap to start with...


    *\. Because the lint in the bottom of my pocket is better than anything Sky has produced.

  2. Sam


    "An Ofcom spokeswoman today said the appropriate people to comment on Sky's cage-rattling were in a meeting all morning. Prior to the publication of this story a second Ofcom press officer rang El Reg demanding to know why we hadn't called to ask the regulator's response."

    And that tells you all you need to know about the wankers who "work" for Ofcom.

  3. Steve

    Free? ...View

    I don't see what is so difficult, Offcom should say no, Freeview shouldn't carry pay tv (the clue is in the name), it has limited bandwidth which is prolly going to become more limited since Offcom want to sell off the digital dividend whilst giving over space for HD, not to mention topuptv and co.

    Offcom have made nothing but mistakes with Freeview and this abandonment by Sky has come only because Offcom are simply not able to do their job.

    Freeview was a bad idea, we should have trashed all those old ITVDigital boxes and gone to mpeg4 when we had the chance and we wouldn't be stuck in such a deep hole!

  4. paul


    Im glad - hope that means that Sky sports news (their only decent channel) will stay for the foreseable future.

    freeview channel space is limited and should be kept for free to air channels. Not pay per view (im looking at you sultana and uk tv gold)


    oh dear...

    As much as I would love to see sky movies/sport on terrrestrial tv I can't help feeling the only people to benefit would be sky. More subs via freeview isn't going to make sky offer a more competitive product.

    That said topup tv's offerring isn't very good, so sky can feel a little aggreived. Ofcom really are pants and haven't exactly been proactive in the tv/telecoms world....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... certainly is the name of the game at Riverside house. Although baulking Sky puts them up a notch in my estimations. Sky may as well replace their free to air garbage with a blank screen, it might make it more exciting.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    18 months for a yes or no?

    Sorry, can't stand Sky, don't like Murdoch agenda, but 18 months to make a simple decision as to whether they can swap channels or not?

    Ofcom is just a fat bloated quango, liposuction it, return the money to the tax payer.

  8. Tim Cook


    Ofcom are a complete and utter waste of space who certainly don't serve the public interest, but obviously aren't quite as pliant as Sky would like either, thus rendering them utterly pointless and of use to nobody.

    That said, Picnic is a nasty, greedy little landgrab on limited free to air bandwidth, and simply a mechanism for Sky to both lessen the appeal of Freeview (their biggest competitor in all but name) and gain ownership of the platform's technical future (by filling the market with Picnic-branded MPEG4 hardware and implementing their own MPEG4 standard for broadcasting, well ahead of any industry consensus on DVB-T2). Any regulator worth the name would have ruled it out when it was first suggested; Ofcom's weak response seems to be just dithering until the problem goes away.

  9. Ross


    [If Ofcom were to approve the broadcaster's desired switch to MPEG4 encoding, a fourth channel could be squeezed into the spectrum, granting a reprieve for Sky News.]

    Who do we lobby to have the switch to MPEG4 blocked?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Offcom are weak

    There's already pay TV on Freeview (Top Up TV and Setanta) and it should be kicked off. Shirley they can't call it "FREEview" and then charge for it.

    However I suspect that Offcom's political masters would rather there was pay TV on there, then they can charge the broadcasters more. Everything is seen as a revenue channel by our current government, which wouldn't be a problem if they had any idea how to spend all that money for the public good. Unfortunately they just throw money at things like the NHS and hope it improves. </Political Rant>

    Anyway Offcom are too weak to simply say no, and instead allow themselves to be dictated to by

    All this talk of a change to MPEG4 has got nothing to do with giving people extra channels, but everything to do with selling new hardware.

  11. james hedley


    Glad OFCOM had the sense to stall this into the ground. If they'd given a flat no, Murdoch would have wheeled out his million dollar lawyers and dragged them through the courts.

    Freeview does suck, but squeezing a couple more channels wouldn't help when the signal is so weak you need a patch to the feckin' Arecibo dish to pick up half the channels! Crank up the watts, for the love of God!

  12. BOBSta


    If Ofcom were to allow Sky One to be broadcast over Freeview (albeit on subscription) wouldn't that set a precedent for Sky having to allow VirginMedia to carry Sky One as well?

    If a channel is available to most ^H^H^H^H a large percentage of UK via the aerial, where does that leave me in my flat with only cable or a crappy internal aerial available?

    I just wanna be able to watch Lost, IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

  13. David

    Murdoch`s mint

    This sounds like yet another way to line Murdoch`s pockets. Sky always were a mercenary bunch, having had experience of them in the trade way back in the early analogue satellite days. I`m not a great fan of Ofcom either, but it seems that they weren`t the feet-draggers in this case, looking at their rather snotty comment in this article:

  14. b166er


    Sky's days are numbered. When (if) they get round to installing FTTC/FTTH, everyone will surely ditch the dish. If you know what you're doing, it's easy to get Sky for pretty much free, but who'd want to?

  15. Christian Berger

    PayTV is not a public service

    Seriously PayTV is nothing more like broadcasting noise. On satellite that is no problem at all as there is enought bandwidth, but no other channel has that kind of bandwidth.

    About Fiber to the Home, that probably won't kill satellite television for several reasons:

    1. You'd need multicasting and that won't happen any time soon.

    2. Even if you get local multicasting, the ISP won't allow foreign multicasting. That's why you will never get foreign channels. For example, no german IPTV provider carries the BBC or ITV and not even Channel 4. Even though you can get all of those easily via satellite in many parts of germany. (recommended dish size 100-200 cm)

    3. IPTV probably will keep detailed logs of everything you watch. You will not have an option to record, and the archives provided by the provider can be changed or deletec at any time.

    Satellite simply allows you to get the channels you want without any domestic instance controlling what you get. So in case your country starts a war with another one, you will still get those channels. It's almoust like the internet.

  16. Steven Raith

    Sidetrack - IPTV recording

    "3. IPTV probably will keep detailed logs of everything you watch. You will not have an option to record, and the archives provided by the provider can be changed or deletec at any time."

    Hello, my name is FRAPS, and I'm your new friend!

    Steven R

  17. David H
    Paris Hilton

    Sky's the limit

    Sky would have known that Picnic was always going to be contentious because Sky already dominates satellite pay-TV in the UK so any growth into terrestrial pay-TV was always going to trigger a lengthy monopoly investigation. So it's probably safe to assume that Sky was never going to launch Picnic in the first place; it just wanted to scare the living daylights out of Setanta and put fear and doubt into its competitors just like it did with Virgin Media and ONdigital.

    Paris, because even she probably realises that Sky are money-grabbing monopolists and Ofcom are a complete waste of space.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BskyB hack competitor bankruptcy

    It’s a good job for BskyB that OFCOM are just toothless bureaucrats because instead of having to listen to their whining over this they would just take their license away due to their involvement in hacking their competitors, Dish Network and DirectTV in the US and if I remember correctly Ondigital and Virgin/NTL in the UK and a couple of EU TV providers.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DirecTV == News Corp == BSkyB

    DirecTV and BSkyB are both owned by News Corp (As is SkyItalia and Foxtel as well as a few others round the world), BSkyB does NOT participate in the North American market.

    DirecTV was accused of leaking information on DishNetworks security keys to PayTV hackers (Dish would prob have done the same if Videoguard was isn't, which is why DishNetwork gets hacked the most...they use Nagravision (heading to V3 which I've heard is either cracked or close to being cracked)

    Videoguard has lasted as long as it has due to good security based on military style algorithms for cipher strength (NDS who wrote it and maintain it have done work for the Israeli Defence Forces and are based in Israel, also they are rumoured to be good friends with mossad (and to be honest would you make it know you had cracked Videoguard if you thought Mossad would come after you?....I wouldnt :-| )

    Also Videoguard is customised for each provider (ie BskyB, Foxtel etc) meaning if one provider falls the others are secure still, plus I get the sense NDS have several versions already prepared in case of a major break in the coding (remember the big BSkyB card swap to the Dark blue viewing cards a few years back? rumours are that someone was very close to breaking that implementation of Videoguard so BSkyB swapped out all the cards and did an over the air box update to change the encryption and strengthen it.

    (I keep an eye on what is going on as I find cryptographic cracking interesting....and plus watching the virtual games of cat and mouse is quite amusing as well as reading about someone getting too cocky and getting nicked - i.e. selling sat boxes pre-programmed with encrytion cracks (Heck a lot of local newspapers carry ads for Free To Air Satellite Boxes (especially in Canada) a euphemism for a box that is either re-programmed before sale or can be, by either the store or the customer themselves, cops aint stupid but selling Free To Air boxes is legal, reprogramming them isnt) I really dont want a visit from Mossad, and I really like being able to walk / breathe

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