Ofcom to probe new BSkyB pay offer

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LONDON -- Media regulator Ofcom said it would investigate BSkyB's plans to launch a four-channel subscription digital terrestrial platform on the grounds that it might "unacceptably diminish" the appeal of existing player Freeview.

The watchdog agency plans to start a 10-week consultation to assess the technical and consumer impact of the proposed service once its receives an official launch proposal for the new service from BSkyB.

The satcaster is proposing a stand-alone four-channel pay television offering that will combine premium sports, movies and entertainment programming.

In order to achieve this, it will have to remove its current lineup of three channels -- Sky News, Sky Travel and Sky 3 -- from current free-to-air market leader Freeview, which has sold over 8 million units.

Ofcom said it would investigate "the potential detriment associated with a reduction in the number of channels received by existing set-top boxes or digital television."

The regulator added in a statement that it would review "whether any variation to the channel lineup might unacceptably diminish the appeal of the channels to a variety of tastes and interests and whether a reduction in the current range of free-to-air channels would be compensated for by the proposed introduction of the new pay television channels."

BSkyB could not be reached for comment at press time.
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