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Sky wants to withdraw its free channels from Freeview

My friends will tell you I'm running on a short fuse most of the time, and Sky has pushed all the right buttons to get me worked up, so here goes a nice little rant

It doesn't take much to annoy me -- anyone who reads the things I write here probably already knows that -- and if you ask my friends, they'll all tell you I'm running on a short fuse most of the time. Sky has today pushed all the right buttons to get me worked up, so here goes a nice little rant.

The satellite broadcaster has decided that instead of providing Sky Sports News, Sky News and Sky Three on Freeview, it would instead like to offer a subscription service. Called 'Picnic' -- yes, it's a bloody rubbish name -- the service would initially use MPEG-2, the same as existing Freeview services, but would later move over to MPEG-4 to increase capacity. This would require consumers to buy a new set-top box. A Picnic box. Vomit.

My problem with this whole thing is that there isn't enough space on Freeview for the channels that are already broadcasting. I'm sick of low-bit rate, low-quality rubbish and bunches of channels that show up in my EPG that I can't view because you need a subscription.

I hope Ofcom tell Sky this isn't an option. If Sky wants to surrender its capacity, I'm sure we'd gladly see it reassigned to HD channels. Even if these were incompatible with current boxes, at least it means people can optionally upgrade to an HD service. With full-time BBC HD and Channel 4 HD on the way, it will be a shame if these can only be seen via satellite.

If you want to write to Ofcom and express your annoyance at this move, you can do so via its Web site. I know I will be, and I notice it's only round the corner from our offices, so maybe I'll pop round with some sort of placard.