Tag Archives: BSkyB

Rupert Murdoch claims to own the ‘Sky’ in ‘Skype’ – stupidest law suit of the year award

I have to confess that when I first heard the news that Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB has launched a legal challenge to Skype I thought April Fool’s Day had come early, not least because the basis of the case is that the company claims to own the “Sky” in “Skype”.

But it transpired that the case was genuine and that BSkyB has been ensconced in a legal battle with Skype for the last five years. The news only emerged after a brief reference to the case in the 250-page document announcing Skype’s Wall Street flotation.

A Sky spokesman said: “The key contention in the dispute is that the brands ‘Sky’ and ‘Skype’ will be considered confusingly similar by members of the public.”

To which I can only reply that I have never linked the two and can’t think of anyone who has. But it seems that the EU has upheld Sky’s complaint and, should Skype lose its upcoming appeal, the company may be forced to change its name.

One wonders if others who have had the temerity to use the word “sky” in their work will now fall foul of the Dirty Digger.

Update: BSkyB have been in touch to point out that the dispute concerns several trademark applications filed by Skype, including, but not limited to, television-related goods and services. Were Skype’s name to appear on a set-top box it’s fair to say that Sky would have a better case. But I’m sure most people could make the distinction.

Sky may claim their customer research suggests members of the public would be confused by the similarity but the key question is this: did any of them consider ‘Sky’ and ‘Skype’ similar before they were asked?

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/08/legal-case-murdoch-claims-sky

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BBC bows to newspaper concerns, delays mobile apps

British state broadcaster BBC has delayed launching mobile applications delivering its news and sport free to devices like Apple’s iPhone after newspapers expressed concern about direct competition. The Newspaper Publishers Association had asked the BBC’s governing body, the BBC Trust, to examine proposals it feared could harm efforts by commercial rivals to succeed with their own mobile offerings. The BBC Trust will now examine the proposals. It did not give any timetable, but the earliest it was likely to discuss the matter is at a meeting late next month. The BBC, which receives a guaranteed GBP 3.6bn each year (USD 5.4bn) in license fees paid by householders, has come under fierce attack from broadcaster BSkyB and other commercial rivals exposed to a severe advertising slump. The amount of free content the BBC already makes available online has discouraged many newspapers from attempting to charge readers for content on the Web. Earlier this month, the BBC signaled a retreat from some commercial operations to focus on core services, bowing to pressure from rivals and ahead of a general election almost certain to result in public spending cuts

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE62S3XQ20100329

Virgin Media signs video Web deal with Brightcove

Cable TV operator Virgin Media has chosen online video publisher Brightcove to provide and support short videos for its more than 11 million monthly website visitors. The two firms said in a statement that Virgin Media would use the Brightcove platform to carry its online news, music and entertainment content alongside adverts. The Nasdaq-listed British cable firm, which has recently launched an online music video service, said Virginmedia.com would be at the heart of its entertainment line-up. Media companies around the world are increasingly making their content available online, to reach new users and the advertising money that is available on the Web. Brightcove has said it has also seen an increase in companies asking about their services since the start of the economic downturn, as they look to launch new services but hold back the costs. Brightcove, which is privately held, already has partnerships with British broadcasters ITV Channel 4, Five, BSkyB and STV. The firm last week announced a deal with Turner Broadcasting to support its content throughout Europe.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE61O1BC20100225

BT opens up its ducts to broadband fibre rivals

BT has said it will allow rival broadband companies to use its tunnels to lay their own superfast fibre network

All broadband suppliers will be allowed to lay their own fibre cables in BT’s tunnels, the company has said. Opening up its “ducts” could potentially encourage the development of a superfast broadband network and save rivals billions of pounds that would have been needed to dig up the nation’s pavements.

It is also in line with calls from the Conservative Party, rivals such as TalkTalk and BSkyB and also with European movements to encourage free access.

Jeremy Hunt, shadow minister for Culture, Media and Sport, had said that a Conservative government would break BT’s monopoly on the network to promote a nationwide broadband target speed of 100mbps, and agreed with TalkTalk and Sky that access to ducts would allow a more effective market to operate.

BT, however, has denied that it has simply caved in to political pressure: “We told [industry regulator] Ofcom last year we’re willing to provide open access to our ducts and poles and we are working with them on how to achieve it. Other companies already have access to our exchanges so we’re relaxed about providing them with another form of access as well,” said the company’s chief executive Ian Livingstone.

Questions, however, remain over the extent to which BT’s rivals will really want to lay their own cables , even in BT ducts; while urban areas may appear commercially attractive, BT is itself laying down some fibre which other companies are allowed to use themselves. In rural areas, there is unlikely to be an appetite from new companies because there will be an insufficient return on the substantial investment required. TalkTalk issued a statement saying that “We’re at the forefront of the debate about how best to provide super fast broadband to our customers. We’re talking to BT and Ofcom and we’re considering a range of options including our own fibre trial.”

The Conservative Party has said that it would use any underspend from the part of the BBC’s licence fee that is currently earmarked to help fund digital switchover. When that is completed after 2012, the Party would consider matched funding or loans to try to encourage a more widespread high-speed broadband network

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/broadband/7197168/BT-opens-up-its-ducts-to-broadband-fibre-rivals.html

Sky loses challenge over ITV stake

Broadcasting giant BSkyB has lost its challenge at the Court of Appeal over the Government’s decision to force it to reduce its 17.9% stake in ITV.Sky began its legal challenge after a Competition Commission finding that the group’s shareholding gave it influence over ITV’s strategy in a way that restricted the market. The Government ordered the media group to ditch more than half the holding – down to below 7.5%.

A challenge at the Competition Appeal Tribunal was unsuccessful and three appeal judges ruled that the direction to reduce the shareholding must stand. Lord Justice Lloyd, giving the ruling of the court, refused permission to take the case to the Supreme Court but Sky can apply directly for a hearing.

The judge said the appeals by Sky and Virgin Media arose from the acquisition by Sky in 2006 of 696 million shares in ITV. A spokesman for Sky said after the hearing: “BSkyB notes the decision by the Court of Appeal in relation to BSkyB’s shareholding in ITV. We will review the judgment and order carefully and consider next steps in due course.”

Shortly before the share deal, Virgin had announced an offer worth about 122p a share whereas the Sky acquisition was at 135p a share, 17% above the share price of the day. The Government referred Sky’s deal to the Competition Commission, which found that the acquisition had created a merger situation and this was expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition which could operate against the public interest.

Sky won its appeal over the number of people controlling media outlets serving UK audiences, with the appeal judges reinstating the Commission’s conclusions that the acquisition would not operate against the public interest on this issue.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5ijFzxs4-0ShYdgIFMhGyWUFqGA6w

BT aims to undercut Sky on TV sport viewing packages

BT says it is ready to enter a price war with Sky over the price charged for fans to watch premium sports events, including football and cricket, on TV.

The telecoms firm is awaiting the outcome of an Ofcom probe, examining whether Sky must drop the wholesale price it charges rivals for content. BT Vision would aim to charge about £15 a month for Sky Sports 1, about £10 cheaper than Sky currently charges. The outcome of the investigation by the regulator will be known in March. A spokesman for BT told the BBC that there would be a benefit to the viewing public as they would be getting more choice.

‘Effective competition’

The Ofcom inquiry into pay TV is also looking at the price Sky charges rivals for access to Sky Movies. If Ofcom rules that Sky must cut its wholesale prices it means that the likes of BT and Virgin Media could pass on to any price cuts to their customers. BT would look to introduce a new price structure from the start of the 2010/11 football season.

When it launched its investigation in June, Ofcom said it believed “requiring Sky to make its premium channels available to other retailers on a wholesale basis is the most appropriate way of ensuring fair and effective competition”. BT and Virgin have struggled to make a dent in Sky’s viewing figures. Sky has 9.5m subscribers, Virgin has 3.7m and BT Vision has 436,000.

Loss on packages

Virgin Media currently charges between £16.50 and £24 per month for Sky Sports 1 depending on a customer’s TV package. The firm – formerly known as NTL – said it made a loss on every sports package sold because of Sky’s wholesale prices and also the need to remain competitive. “Ofcom’s proposals to cut wholesale prices for Sky Sports aren’t about subsidising Sky’s competitors,” Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media, told the BBC.

He said it was more about “creating a competitive market”, and that Ofcom had the means to “bring premium film and sport to millions more people at much lower prices”.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8464004.stm

Sky ends paid-content talks with Google’s YouTube

BSkyB has ended talks with Google about the opportunity for its pay-TV content to be made available on YouTube.

BSkyB was exploring the possibility of uploading full-length shows, such as ‘Soccer AM’, onto the video-sharing site to allow users to watch for a fee, but has decided against the move. Google executive David Eun recently confirmed to Reuters that the company was looking at charging subscriptions as an option to secure more long-form content. While Sky will continue to offer free short video clips of its shows on YouTube, it makes a great deal of its TV service available online through its paid-for SkyPlayer platform. Sky TV subscribers can access this content for free.

Non Sky customers can rent individual programmes to watch through SkyPlayer or alternatively they can subscribe solely to the online service. A Sky spokesman told Brand Republic: “The pay model is at the heart of our business and allows us to invest significantly in high-quality, distinctive content. “While we do offer some content on a free basis via both the TV and the web, we have no plans to offer long-form content online outside of the paid-for model.”

The news comes after Rupert Murdoch and his executives at News Corporation, the majority owner of BSkyB, labelled Google and other news aggregation sites “parasites”, “content kleptomaniacs”, “vampires” and “tech tapeworms”. It also comes as Murdoch attempts to put his online newspaper assets, which include The Times and The Sun, behind subscriber paywalls. Google was not available to comment at time of publication.

http://www.brandrepublic.com/BrandRepublicNews/News/974226/Sky-ends-paid-content-talks-Googles-YouTube/?DCMP=EMC-DailyNewsBulletin