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BBC and Sky argue over on-demand service

The BBC has indicated it has made a number of proposals to get Sky to promote BBC on-demand services on Sky+ and SkyQ as part of ongoing discussions, while criticizing Sky for employing an outdated version of the iPlayer.

It follows a call from Sky for the BBC to "get with the times" and allow them to highlight BBC programmes as part of its editorial picks on Sky+ and SkyQ. Sky also wants the BBC to enable it to offer BBC content on its mobile apps. Currently, the BBC won't allow its programmes to be featured as a Top Pick and restricts how its content can be used on third-party mobile apps.

The BBC is pushing for public service broadcasters to be given permanent due prominence on newer connected TV services which some sources say wouldn't be guaranteed if individual aspects of its content was subject to being selected by Sky's editorial team on a day-to-day basis. Sky has highlighted that other public service broadcasters (ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) have no problem in allowing Sky to promote their programmes on the SkyQ homepage.

Broadcast cites Sky insiders who are understood to be “immensely frustrated” by the BBC’s stance, which prevents subscribers from accessing its linear or on-demand programming from within Sky’s mobile video apps. Meanwhile, a BBC spokesman is reported to have criticized the use of an old version of the iPlayer by Sky, saying the pay TV giant "continues to deny its customers and licence fee payers easy access to and instant availability of BBC programmes by employing an outdated version. This means its customers currently get an inferior service to viewers on other platforms."

The BBC currently only allows full online access to all of its linear and on-demand content through current versions of the iPlayer, which on other TV platforms also fully incorporates additional streams set up for special events, such as Glastonbury and Wimbledon, through a connected red button service. Older versions of the iPlayer have been withdrawn from all other platforms. The Sky version is a bespoke version in line with Sky's historically different approach to deploying on-demand services on its platform.

Several years ago it emerged that so-called "retransmission fees" charged by Sky to the BBC had been reduced in return for the BBC providing the iPlayer to Sky, before the Platform Contribution Charge - as the fee was officially known as - was dropped in 2014

Broadcasters including the BBC are backing amendments to the Digital Economy Bill which is currently going through Parliament, that would force Sky and other providers to list public service on-demand services at the top of the list, in the same way linear channels 1-5 (101-105) are already first in the EPG.