Sky slams plans for multi-channel iPlayer

Broadcaster Sky has lashed out over the BBC's plans to link content from rival broadcasters to its streaming iPlayer service.

Rupert Murdoch's TV service claims that by approving the BBC's plans, regulators have effectively let the BBC turn its iPlayer into an aggregator service.

The latest version of the BBC's iPlayer, launched yesterday, allows Facebook and Twitter users to recommend programmes from directly within the online app, and allows viewers to invite friends to watch programmes via Windows Live Messenger.

Later in the year, the BBC plans to provide links to streaming content from ITV Player, Clic, 4oD, Demand Five and SeeSaw, as a result of deals it has struck with TV channels ITV, Channel 4, S4C and Five, and online provider Arqiva.

Users will be able to search for content from partner channels from within iPlayer, which will link them to the service showing the content they select. Sky claims that because of iPlayer's popularity, the BBC's plan effectively creates an aggregator that will harm the market for companies that have been shut out of the BBC deal.

In a statement issued to THINQ, Sky said: “We don’t believe it’s for the BBC to reinvent iPlayer as an online aggregator of third party content without appropriate regulatory review. The BBC Trust rejected similar proposals last year, acknowledging the potential for distortion of competition."

"When the idea of content aggregation was first discussed during iPlayer’s original approval," the statement continued. "Ofcom called for a further Public Value Test should the scope of the service be extended in this way.”

The BBC, which has a promised to have a version of iPlayer for Apple's iPad ready for the tablet's launch tomorrow, has announced plans to link up with further social media sites in the near future.