Sky viewers left with bill as BBC switch hits problems
LONDON - Sky Digital viewers may have to fork out to have their dishes retuned after thousands lost reception of the BBC's digital channels when the corporation moved its satellite signal last week in a cost-cutting move designed to save £85m.
The problems started last Wednesday when the BBC switched its signal from the Sky Astra satellite, which broadcasts the Sky Digital signal.
The much-trumpeted move is meant to save the BBC £85m over a five-year period because it will no longer need to use Sky's encryption technology, which stops the signal being picked up outside the UK.
The BBC has moved to the Astra 2D satellite, which unlike Sky Astra 2A does not transmit across Europe. Sky's encryption technology prevents programmes being seen in countries where they have not been licensed.
Although most of Sky's 6.7m subscribers have been able to pick up all the BBC's channels, there are a number who have been left without access to the corporation's digital channels including BBC News 24, BBC Three, BBC Four and the daytime children's services CBeebies and CBBC.
A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "For most Sky viewers, the migration of the BBC's services from Astra 2A to 2D would have gone unnoticed as Sky digiboxes automatically tuned to the new source."
The BBC has washed its hands of responsibility for the problems, saying that it is down to how the satellite dishes have been installed.
A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "The BBC consulted Sky about this situation and it would appear that those viewers affected might have unsuitable satellite dish installations."
She added that in the majority of cases the transition went smoothly.
Viewers currently experiencing problems with their service are being advised to call out technicians to adjust their satellite dishes. The BBC is also directing viewers to a web page on BBCi dedicated to digital satellite reception problems.
"We had been informed by Sky that it would be necessary for customers to arrange for qualified satellite installers to visit affected installations in order to correct the installation problems," she said.
The two broadcasters are still locked in a dispute over how much Sky will charge for BBC One and BBC Two to keep their places on its Electronic Programme Guide. The Independent Television Commission is currently investigating the issue, and is expected to rule on it next month.
BBC One and BBC Two currently occupy the top 101 and 102 slots on the guide.
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