Freesat bosses have dismissed claims by Channel 4 that they sought to impose “a very significant cost increase” on the broadcaster for continuing to carry the High Definition version of its main channel and the All4 catch-up app.
On Tuesday it was revealed that both services would leave the platform this week, with Channel 4 blaming its decision on a rise in the fees levied on broadcasters whose channels and apps appear on Freesat’s programme guide.
In a statement it claimed: “Freesat is changing its charging structure, leading to a very significant cost increase for Channel 4, which ultimately takes funding away from our content investment budget.”
“To reduce the overall burden of our Freesat costs and make internal savings we have regrettably given notice to withdraw All4 and C4 HD while we consider our long term relationship with Freesat.”
However Freesat has now denied that any attempt was made to increase the fees charged for All4’s inclusion.
The subscription-free platform is owned by the BBC and ITV and levies a fee on broadcasters whose channels and apps appear on its programme guide.
It says that overheads have outstripped income “for many years,” prompting it to review the fees paid by broadcasters so that they “reflect the value that channel partners derive from the platform.”
While the cost for 4HD was set to rise, Freesat insists “the fees charged for Channel 4’s On demand service All4 have not changed” and says it was “surprised Channel 4 decided to remove this service from the platform”.
It added: “Freesat’s aim is not to make a profit from these changes but simply to cover its operational costs.
“We believe that the redistribution of fees for broadcast channels makes it a fairer system for all our partners.
“Channel 4 remains an important partner for Freesat and we hope our customers are able to enjoy All4 and 4HD on Freesat again soon.”
Freesat competes against Freeview Play and YouView which also offer a mix of free-to-air channels and catch-up apps and the removal of All4 could place it at a significant disadvantage.
While the decision to pull the app will deliver savings for Channel 4, the broadcaster risks looking as if it’s seeking to gain leverage over the platform by weakening its appeal to consumers.