BSkyB Eyes Tiscali IPTV Carriage, Drops PVR Subscription Fee

In the first of two separate pieces of BSkyB news, Times of London, citing unnamed sources, claimed the digital satellite broadcaster is in advanced talks with Italian-owned broadband and telephony provider Tiscali to place its basic selection of in-house channels on its UK IPTV platform (formerly HomeChoice).

Neither side is speaking, but the report says a deal could be announced within weeks that would give Tiscali non-exclusive carriage of Sky One, Sky Sports News and Sky News. Somewhat ironic given that BSkyB has been doing everything it can of late to cut the potential audience base for its line-up – pulling the channels from Virgin Media’s cable platform after a disagreement over carriage rates and yanking them from Freeview, too, to make way for a controversial new premium segment on the digital terrestrial system. Times says Tiscali is offering a higher rate per subscriber than Virgin Media was willing to pay, but it may be that a deal with a minnow like Tiscali (1.48 million broadband customers, not all of them on IPTV) would merely help placate the multiple competition investigations BSkyB is facing.

Meanwhile, BSkyB is apparently due to abandon the current charge for its Sky+ PVR package. The service, which uses a 160Gb set-top box that can pause and rewind live TV, currently costs £10 ($20) per month plus the up-front box cost, but, in a move that could popularize non-linear, on-demand TV watching in the UK, BSkyB seemingly used a bulletin board to announce it would drop the charge from July 1 to all Sky Digital package subscribers.