HC 743 Support for the creative economy

Supplementary written evidence submitted by BSkyB [SCE 065a]

Sky is pleased to be given the opportunity to supply the Committee with further evidence of our considerable and growing investment in the UK’s creative industries.

Investment in Content Q686

Sky invests well over £2 billion annually in TV content, around two-thirds of which is spent in the UK.  In 2010 we made a commitment to increase the proportion of this spend that relates to UK commissioned and produced programming so that by 2014 this element would account for £600m across all our channels – this element does not include the acquisition of any sports or movie rights. We are well on track to meeting this target with £450m invested in 2011.  As explained during the evidence session, most of the growth is coming in areas such as drama, comedy, entertainment and the arts, where we see new gaps and opportunities.   We expect about two-thirds of our additional spend to be invested in these areas. When we refer to UK content we mean programmes commissioned from the UK’s independent production sector as well as our journalism and in-house production activity, which directly supports over 2,500 jobs dedicated to content creation. UK programming targets exclude investment in sports rights, overseas programme acquisitions and partner channels.

Technical Platform Charges Q705

Sky is the only platform currently required to provide ‘open’ access to its platform. This means, amongst other things, that any broadcaster with an EU broadcasting licence can seek to add its channel(s) to Sky’s EPG provided the broadcaster can secure an EPG slot.  In addition, a broadcaster on the Sky DTH platform is able to acquire conditional access services and/or regionalisation services from Sky in order to encrypt its channel(s) and/or provide its channels to specific regions within the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The Sky DTH platform provides significant benefits to broadcasters, including the PSBs.  Sky has invested well over £1 billion in its digital satellite platform, creating a platform which enables broadcasters to deliver TV channels (in both standard definition and high definition), radio stations, and interactive services to over 11 million UK households. Over 200 different broadcasters now use the platform to deliver services to UK households.

Sky’s platform charges for its EPG and conditional access/regionalisation services are set out in a rate card.  The platform charges are consistent with Sky’s regulatory obligations and Sky seeks to recover both the cost of running the platform and the costs of its development.

Sky’s rate card sets out its current charge’s [1] , as well as its provisional charges for the period commencing 1 July 2014.   The charges paid by the PSBs for technical platform services were reduced by around 40% in 2012 and will reduce by approximately 30% in 2014.  The total paid by all PSB channels in 2014 will be approximately £7 million, with further reductions expected in the future.  The BBC charges in 2014 are expected to be around £4.4m.   

Sky Skills Studio Q718

The Sky Skills Studio initiative gives young people the opportunity to gain insight into the media by taking schools behind the scenes. Students (aged 8-18) are able to see how we create TV on a tour of Sky Studios. We also offer them the chance to work with our technology, including broadcast quality cameras, green screens and touch screen edit tables to make their very own television report on subjects they are studying at school. Our aim is to introduce 12,000 young people to this free educational experience in the first year.

With regards to the Committee’s interest in the geography of the schools visiting Sky Skills Studio, of the schools that have already visited  or are due to visit 47% are from the surrounding Boroughs, 32% are schools from inside the M25 and 21% from the rest of the UK. These include schools from Aberdeen, Bolton, Bradford, Durham, Cheshire, Coventry, Falkirk, Flintshire, Gloucestershire, and Hampshire. We have even welcomed an International school from Doha. 

Apprenticeships Q719

As a key employer in the creative and technology industries, Sky is committed to developing and growing the skills of all those who work with us. Sky is continuing to increase the number of apprentices it takes on and this year is planning to take on just under 100 young people across our customer service, technology, engineer, marketing and broadcast operations.

The apprenticeships are structured programmes with on the job training as well as classroom based learning to develop their skills and achieve nationally recognised qualifications. The apprentices attend internal training courses to build core professional skills such as communication and time management. Each apprentice has a line manager for coaching and daily management, they also have a ‘buddy’ for more pastoral care and support. We hope that these opportunities are the beginning of the candidate’s careers with Sky and, depending on the successful completion of the qualification, expect the apprenticeships to become permanent roles with Sky.

In addition to our commitment to apprenticeships Sky also runs a number of other schemes including an extensive graduate and undergraduate placement scheme. This year there will be around 100 vacancies across 20 programmes from strategy to technology, from marketing to customer operations, and HR to Sky Sports News. Such is the popularity of these places the majority have already been filled.

April 2013

[1] http://corporate.sky.com/documents/pdf/20c24d2e1c62406594e1a79de5f917db/bskyb_and_sssl_published_price_list_effective_1_july_2012.pdf

Prepared 25th April 2013