Sky and Virgin Media should have to pay public service broadcasters to air their channels, it has been claimed.
Adam Crozier, ITV Chief Executive, believes the pay-TV providers should pay millions of pounds per year to offer ITV, BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to their subscribers.
He claimed the public service broadcasting (PSB) channels are by far the most popular on pay-TV and, as such, service providers should face retransmission payments.
"The majority of viewing on these pay-TV platforms is PSB programming, yet ITV, whether as producer or broadcaster investing in creating that content, doesn’t receive any payment," Mr Crozier stated.
"The impact of this wholly outdated regime is that UK PSBs are forced to subsidise major pay-TV platforms."
He claimed it is "in the interests of all broadcasters" to encourage the regulator and government to look at this issue.
ITV noted that US free-to-air broadcasters received approximately £2 billion in retransmission payments from cable operators last year.
Yet in the UK, the PSBs have to pay Sky to have their channels carried, with total fees expected to be around £11 million in 2014. Virgin Media does not charge PSBs to have their channels carried.
Graham McWilliam, Sky’s Group Director of Corporate Affairs, said ITV wants to keep the "very significant benefits" of its PSB status, while cherry-picking from the "fundamentally different" US market.
"UK satellite viewers don’t pay to receive free-to-view PSB channels and Sky doesn’t pay for content that is given away for free on other platforms," he stated.
"If additional charges were introduced, the reality is that millions of households would end up paying for PSB channels that are supposed to be free."
The question is, should retransmission fees be introduced, what effect would this have on the pricing of Sky and Virgin Media TV, home phone and broadband bundles?
Higher costs might make it more difficult for the service providers to offer low prices on their broadband package, unless of course they are prepared to accept narrower margins.