Sky Packs Up Its Picnic, Blames Regulator Delays

BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) is scrapping its plan to launch a pay-TV platform on top of Freeview, before Ofcom has even had the chance to rule it out. The digital terrestrial platform’s rise poses a threat to Sky’s satellite platform, but laying a premium service over the free-to-air system may have been run counter to Freeview’s remit. Ofcom opened a consultation on the issue in October 2007 but Picnic’s progress was blocked in May when the regulator opened a wide-ranging inquiry on UK pay-TV, so Sky has now picked up its ball on gone home: “We intend to wind down preparations by redeploying as many of the team as possible to other parts of Sky” (via FT and New Media Markets). Picnic would have replaced BSkyB’s free-to-air Freeview channels – Sky News, Sky Three and Sky Sports News – with a premium bundle, with other talk of Picnic ISP appearing to have dissipated sooner.