Sky boss moans about BBC online plans

Sky boss Mike Darcy has written an open letter to the Guardian carping about the BBC's plans to pump licence-payers' cash into video on demand service Project Canvas.

Petulant from the off, Darcy even complains about Sky being described as 'a satellite broadcaster' saying that most of what he does to earn his huge salary has nothing to do with dishes or set-top boxes.

But the main thrust of his moaning missive seems to attack the BBC's outrageous policy of giving people the programmes they have paid for through the licensing fee in simple way, how and when they want to watch it, and for free.

Darcy accuses the Beeb of distorting the video-on-demand market by offering content across multiple formats using a common user interface, a plan which he insist is anti-competitive and anti-innovation, saying "The danger here is that Canvas deters commercial players from launching new products and services that would compete with a BBC-backed platform."

The Canvas Project - which plans in conjunction with BT to adopt common technical standards, develop a consistent user interface and bring internet-connected TV to more consumers - has got the Sky boss hot under the collar because, he says, all of the proposed mission objectives would be achieved in due course by commercial organisations... like his own.

"Rather than replicating what would otherwise occur naturally, the BBC could put the license fee to better use by creating outstanding content and, importantly, making it available without discrimination on all platforms," Darcy said, without a hint of irony.

Sky has its own video-on-demand service, Sky Player, which regularly charges paying subscribers to watch broadcast they have already paid for. Which is nice for Sky's bank balance.

We can't help but wonder whether Sky board members would be quite so keen to attack Project Canvas had they been invited to participate in the initiative.

Sky boss Rupert Murdoch has declared war on the BBC and has recently recruited the Tory party to its cause. Cameron has pledged to take an axe to the institution and hand chunks directly to Rupe - in exchange for a few favourable, pre-election Sun headlines.

More attacks on the BBC are expected soon.