Satellite platforms should end the fees they charge public service broadcasters for carrying their channels, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said today.
The BBC and other public service broadcasters (PSBs) currently pay millions of pounds a year to be shown by satellite platforms while cable networks carry these channels without payment.
The Communications Minister said these fees should be dropped and neither side should pay any charges in a speech to the Oxford Media Convention.
He said: “We’re not going to rush into a regulatory solution because I believe there’s no reason the market should not be able to work out a fair, equitable solution.
“But if the industry cannot find a way to stop imposing this cost on Licence Fee payers and public service broadcasters, we will look at our options for intervention.”
Re-transmission fees have been raised as part of the Communications Review process. It has been argued that PSBs are at a disadvantage when negotiating fees, as they are obliged to try to ensure they are available on all major TV platforms, while satellite platforms have argued they are covering costs incurred carrying PSB channels.
Mr Vaizey said the industry should be able to reach a fair and equitable solution but if that was not possible the Government would look at intervening.
The Communications Minister also talked about the broad approach the Government would be taking in the forthcoming Communications Review White Paper.
The White Paper will focus on three key areas - connectivity and infrastructure, content and consumers. The regulation of the press following the publication of Lord Justice Leveson’s report is being taken forward separately.
The Government has engaged with industry for more than 18 months to review the regulations covering the communications sector.
Mr Vaizey said: “People have told us that, for the most part, our regulatory framework is working. The way forward is evolution rather than revolution.
“We need a regime that is responsive and flexible enough to regulate a fast paced environment. We need these industries to continue to innovate, to show leadership and to take responsibility.
“This will give us a framework that is able to support growth and support the people of the UK in an increasingly interconnected world. This means the best infrastructure, world leading content and consumer confidence.”
Notes to Editors
Mr Vaizey’s speech to the Oxford Media Convention.
The comms review began in May 2011 with an open letter and the responses are available here. A series of seminars were held last year to explore the issues raised through the open letter in more detail. Information about the seminar discussions is available here. The White Paper is due to be published in the spring.
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