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Sky suffer from reduction in viewers

# May 1, 02:54 AM by Mick

The Telegraph reports that BSkyb is expected to announce tomorrow (Wednesday) that the number of its subscribers deserting the broadcaster, could reach to as high as 14% a year. Regardless of the expected announcement due tomorrow, Sky has lost a considerable amount of viewers. The main loss due to channels such as Sky One and Sky News, no longer being aired on Virgin Media’s cable TV network.

According to an article in TV Zone Magazine (Issue #215), Sky One’s ratings have plummeted by 34% compared to this time last year. Sky News viewers have reportedly dropped by 23%. As already mentioned, this huge loss is mostly put down to the Sky channels being pulled from Virgin Media. But further loss in viewers is also apparently down to the Sky channels being less appealing than they were previously.

This was Virgin Media’s arguement during the beginning of the bitter row to renew their contract to carry Sky’s basic channels, Sky had attempted to defend their increase in asking price by stating they had spent a lot of money in investing in quality programs, but Virgin Media said Sky wanted more money, Sky wanted rewarding for ‘apparent failure’ – Virgin Media said the Sky channels were less popular than they once were.

The huge loss in Sky One’s ratings has caused the channel to drop out of the Top 5 non terrestrial channel listing.

Meanwhile, in other news – BSkyb could be forced to sell all or part of its 17.9% stake in ITV, advice from two regulators, Ofcom and The Office of Fair Trading, given to Trade Secretary Alistair Darling, has put pressure on him to refer the matter to Competition Commission.

John Fingleton, the Office of Fair Trading’s chief executive, said:

“Sky’s shareholding means that ITV is no longer fully independent and this may alter the future competitive landscape. We believe these risks to competition merit further examination.”

Ofcom’s advice is that there are public interest issues, in relation to sufficient plurality of news provision for both cross media and television news in the UK.

Should Sky be forced to sell its stake in ITV, the path could become clear for Virgin Media to reopen talks to acquire the channel.

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