Sky plans 200 digital channels

BSkyB, the satellite broadcasting company, plans to launch 200 digital television channels from autumn of next year, using capacity on a soon- to-be-launched Astra digital satellite, the company's chief executive, Sam Chisholm, confirmed yesterday.

The service would be available to any home in the UK equipped with a digital decoder, which Sky hopes will be priced at about pounds 200.

Between 60 and 100 channels will be used to broadcast films on "near demand", with start times staggered so that viewers need not wait more than 15 minutes before the start of a chosen film.

Mr Chisholm said the contracts with Hollywood studios would mean sharing the revenues from pay-per-view.

News of Sky's digital plans came as the company unveiled record pre-tax profits ahead 71 per cent to pounds 178m, on turnover of pounds 736m, in the nine months to 31 March.

"The excellent financial performance reflects the continued growth in our subscriber base," Mr Chisholm said. The new digital services would free up capacity on existing satellites, which could then be used to broadcast channels for continental Europe, Sky sources said.

BSkyB, 40 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, recently announced a joint venture with three continental media companies to launch new pay-TV services in Europe, starting in Germany.

BSkyB's shares rose 8p to 462p on the results, but settled back to 454p, flat on the day. Analysts said the figures were in line with expectations, and sounded a cautious note about future earnings potential.

"There are real concerns about the regulatory environment," said one leading analyst. The pay-TV market in the UK is currently the subject of an inquiry by the Office of Fair Trading, following complaints by cable operators over the terms under which Sky's satellite programming is supplied to them. They say Sky's near- monopoly over programming, satellite capacity and subscription-management systems makes the company the effective "gatekeeper" in pay-TV.

"If the OFT does not do something, then European competition authorities probably will," said another media analyst. "Either way, the current trends are probably not sustainable."

The European Commission has also expressed concern about the company's dominant position in the pay-TV industry, and is believed to be studying the implications of BSkyB's continental alliance.

In the UK, the OFT inquiry is "a very crucial issue as Sky position themselves for digital", Anthony de Larrinaga, analyst at Panmure Gordon, said.

Sky sources discounted the effects of any OFT intervention. They claim that the new digital platform would be open to other broadcasters, on a "fair and equitable basis".

But competitors are not convinced. "There is a very real fear that Sky will dominate digital just as they have dominated analogue," said a source at a leading cable operator.

Management at BSkyB said the company's new digital programming services would allow it to continue to push up both subscription fees and the number of subscribers.

Year-on-year, Sky has added 800,000 new subscribers, taking the total to 5.35 million, or one-in-five UK households. But the current analogue satellite service is faced with severe capacity restraints. "They need digital to allow them to add new programme services," Louise Barton, analyst at Henderson Crosthwaite, said.

Comment, page 19

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
business
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?