David Abraham didn't hold back in his MacTaggart speech.
Sky has hit back at Channel 4's chief executive David Abraham over what the company perceives to be "glaring inconsistency" in his views on retransmission fees. In his speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Abraham accused Sky of being "dishonest" and said the firm should pay to transmit the five terrestrial channels - for fees that would reach £200 million a year.
Steph and Dom on Gogglebox. The production company behind the show was recently told to the US
Abraham said on Friday: "The argument that has been played out that we are looking for subsidy and regulatory defence, is a dishonest one. The fact is the current regime is a piece of government intervention which benefits the pay platforms, it allows pay-TV platforms to take free-to-air channels for free.
"The government came out without enforcing regulation and said they would quite like the fee [Sky charges Channel 4] to go to zero and Sky pretty much ignored that.
"We are being accused of seeking a subsidy when they are benefiting from an intervention themselves, they themselves are hiding behind an intervention. To argue that the media market shouldn't be governed in a democratic society is dishonest, it's a dishonest thing.
However, Sky hit back, saying Abraham was merely "looking for a handout" and calling out "glaring inconsistency" in his argument. Currently, Channel 4 pays Sky to broadcast its channels via its satellite broadcasting operation - a deal worth millions every year.
A spokesman said: "There is a glaring inconsistency with David Abraham insisting today that the Channel 4 model is not under threat while simultaneously looking for a handout.
"Either Channel 4 don't understand how our platform works or they choose to ignore it. But it is really very simple. Satellite viewers don't pay to receive free-to-air PSB channels and Sky doesn't pay for content that is given away for free on other platforms.
Gogglebox was a major hit for Channel 4
"The existing regime allows C4 to generate one third of its ad revenue, around £230m, thanks to regulated access to 11m Sky homes and a valuable slot at the top of the EPG.
"Let's be clear, if additional charges were introduced, ultimately millions of households would end up paying for PSB channels. Who wants that to happen?"
Abraham used his MacTaggart lecture to call for Sky to begin paying charges. "Yes I am confident of it," he said. "The time has come."
Elsewhere in his lecture, Abraham said US firms are queuing up to by "our producers" and "our broadcasters". All3Media, maker of Gogglebox, was recently sold to US-owned Discovery and Liberty Global.