skySky has gone public with detailed plans of its proposed pay TV offering on digital terrestrial television. The move comes shortly before Ofcom’s planned public consultation on Sky’s proposal to replace its free channels – including Sky News – on digital terrestrial with pay services. The service, were it to be approved by Ofcom, would be called Picnic and would initially offer three MPEG-2 streams, which at different times of day would carry Sky Sports 1, Sky Movies, Sky One, a children’s channel and a factual channel.

Sky is also seeking Ofcom approval to move to the newer MPEG-4 compression standard; if approved, Sky would then offer a fourth channel broadcasting Sky News on a 24 hour basis.
Sky plans to work with multiple manufacturers – at launch, primarily Sagem – to offer Picnic boxes that would be capable of receiving both MPEG-4 and existing MPEG-2 channels.

The topic of MPEG-4 adoption was most recently addressed by Ofcom in its discussion on the potential impacts of BBC HD – one of which being the channel potentially driving take-up of MPEG-4 compatible boxes, leading to “spectrum efficiency” benefits if it were to allow a switch to MPEG-4 from MPEG-2 earlier than expected.

Sky’s Picnic plans to offer “next generation” MPEG-4 boxes may appeal to the regulator for the same reasons.
Pricing was not announced today, but Picnic will be marketed as a triple-play solution including TV, Sky Talk, and Sky Broadband.

“The launch of Picnic will be a big step forward for customers who are hungry for value and simplicity,” said Sky chief executive James Murdoch. “We are looking forward to the conclusion of the regulatory approval process so we can get going delivering a great service and real savings to customers.”
Sky has readied a significant amount of marketing material, including the logo (pictured above) and a website for prospective customers to register their interest.

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By Expat