Satellite news 20.06.05


Sky to rejig its digital TV subscription packages

Sky is shaking up its subscription packages in a bid to achieve its target of 10m households by 2010. It follows this week's announcement by Freeview that it is continuing to grow rapidly, having added 466,430 new viewers in the three months to March 31, helping it pass the 5m mark, while Sky pulled in just 87,000 new subscribers during the same period, taking its total number of homes to 7.3m. From September, Sky is launching six new genre-based bouquets of channels, under the headings of variety, kids, knowledge, style and culture, music, and news and events. New subscribers will be able to choose a combination of either two, four or six of these, with the latter becoming the equivalent of Sky's present Family Package, which costs 19.50 per month. A Sky spokesman said: "We need to address viewers who haven't yet subscribed to pay-TV and target our marketing more effectively."

Reality TV's owners buy the Horror Channel

Zone Vision, the company behind Reality TV, is buying the Horror Channel and plans to extend the channel's reach across Europe. The Horror Channel has been on air on Sky Digital since May 2004 and founder Tony Hazell had planned to start a romance-themed channel called Amor, but these have faltered.

Musicians Channel goes into liquidation

The Musicians Channel on Sky Digital channel 475 is reported to have gone into liquidation. The station only launched last year as a stepping stone for budding musicians but has failed to keep up with its all payments and has now gone off air.

Bidding war for football TV rights looks likely

UK broadcasters are in talks about making a joint offer for the live TV rights for Premier League football in a challenge to Sky, according to the Financial Times. NTL, Telewest and terrestrial broadcasters are considering teaming up in a joint bid while some private equity groups have also expressed interest in coming in. NTL and Telewest want the live TV rights for Premiership football as they currently have to pay an undisclosed sum to Sky to air the games, but it is thought they are left with little margin on their premium packages. Top Up TV, the pay DTT service, is also keen to broadcast live Premier League games on its platform.

High-definition version of Artsworld to launch

TV regulator Ofcom has granted a broadcast licence to Sky for a high-definition version of Artsworld. The new channel is likely to launch later this year. Artsworld currently broadcasts from 2pm-12am daily on Sky Digital channel 157.

Sky unveils plans for TV portal for Web sites

Sky is developing a new interactive TV portal that will allow Web sites to reach a new audience through TV. Scheduled to launch later this year, Sky hopes it will attract a range of web content providers including established e-business operators, not-for-profit organisations and individuals. The portal will be available without subscription to all digital satellite viewers in the UK and Ireland, and will provide access to a range of Internet services that have been adapted for TV. Sky says the portal will complement the existing entertainment, gaming and communications services available on the existing Sky Active portal by creating an inexpensive TV distribution channel for a wider range of web content. Sky claims the new portal will make it easier for website operators to launch an iTV service. More details will be available at

BBC planning blanket coverage of Live 8

The BBC will offer blanket coverage of all the Live 8 concerts across its network of terrestrial and digital TV channels. BBC1 and BBC2 will share live coverage of the July 2 event in London's Hyde Park live from 1pm-9.30pm. Included will be elements of the gigs in Paris, Berlin and Rome. From 10pm, BBC1 will have five hours from the Philadelphia show, while BBC3 will cover all the key shows from 7pm on Saturday to 5am on Sunday, and repeat the Philadelphia concert on the Sunday night.

Watchdog probes ITV's purchase of SDN

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to investigate ITV puchase of digital terrestrial television multiplex operator SDN to ascertain whether the deal is anti-competitive, according to press reports. The OFT said the 134m deal between ITV and SDN could be referred to the Competition Commission. The OFT said: "Should it be found to be a relevant merger situation, the OFT will further consider whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the UK for goods or services that warrants reference to the Competition Commission for investigation and report."

BBC Worldwide's profits soar by 50%

BBC Worldwide has this week announced record profits of 55 million for 2004/05, a year on year increase of 50 per cent but still a relatively low 7.7 per cent return on sales increased by 7 per cent to 706 million. The profit included the first dividend from UKTV, its UK channels joint venture with Flextech Television, of 2.1 million.

Channel Five buys rights to four US TV series

Channel Five has bought four new US TV series from CBS Paramount, including a coming-of-age drama Everybody Hates Chris. The channel has picked up the Jennifer Lopez executive-produced South Beach, a drama about three young adults living in the sexy and dangerous world of Miami's beachfront, and Sex, Lies & Secrets, a drama exploring the relationship of a tight-knit group of twenty-something friends living in a small neighbourhood near Hollywood; and the comedy Out of Practice.

Digital TV news in brief...

Interactive TV company YooMedia has warned that 'sluggishness' at its games and gambling division, which runs Avago and William Hill TV, will mean that this year's earnings will be significantly lower than expected... A new reality TV series is being produced for Sky One that aims to re-instill family values among those who have lost the ability to communicate with one another... The BBC has bought the UK broadcast rights for Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated mini-series Into the West.

Regards Satdude.