Margaret Thatcher saw the value of free speech and passed laws allowing UK citizens to easily watch foreign satellite TV channels. Freedom of speech and access to foreign sources helps democracy abroad. Yet in the UK the previous mixed-provider platform on Astra has been replaced with a system controlled by just one broadcaster, Sky. In theory non-UK channels can operate on the Sky platform, but in reality every channel is UK regulated by Ofcom or tacitly approved by Sky. It's market power makes direct competitors or types of channels Sky disapproves of unable to access the UK market. They can't get a transponder slot. If they do,m they can't get listed on the Sky EPG. If they do the cost is £25,000 or more per year.

This is an insurmountable hurdle for, say, a small French regional channel, that might want to broadcast to ex-patriot French working in Britain. A custom dish set-up is not an option for many people, particularly anyone in temporary accommodation.

The Sky platform has just 2 European channels, both bland state run "Best Of" packages. We should be strengthening our ties, not weakening them.

Not a Government issue? Not a freedom issue? Yes, Mr Moderator, it is. It will take Government action to force Sky (and Virgin, BT, etc) to carry european channels on request and at low cost, without UK regulation. (Dual regulation does not work).

Give the UK people freedom to hear the rest of the world, not just what big business wants us to hear.

Why is this idea important?

Access to foreign media is an important democratic safeguard. It should not be subject to whim.

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