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Interview: Beat Knecht, CEO, Zattoo: Free To Re-Air?

imageThe CEO of live TV streaming aggregator Zattoo has criticised British broadcasters for failing to work with him, after last week losing several German channels in a legal dispute. Beat Knecht said the BBC – which already streams its own channels online and has tried to push programming through Kangaroo and, together with counterparts, iPlayer and now Canvas – “obviously has a conflict of interest“.

Knecht’s Zattoo has formal agreements for 17 of the 25 channels it carries in the UK, but free-to-air broadcasters haven’t come aboard, leaving it to re-air stations under a legal loophole: “There’s an expectation that the BBC would syndicate, which was the original stance that they had toward us, and then they slipped a note from the strategic controller saying they wouldn’t syndicate until the iPlayer was a success – I find that pretty incredible.”

Zattoo’s channels at home in Zurich and elsewhere are mostly legit, but: “The role we play in the UK is a very minor one compared to Switzerland and Germany; we’re more a continental play right now. Because we resorted to a section of the law that allowed us to transmit the so-called ‘qualifying services’, we don’t have the same squeaky clean standing we do on the continent. In the UK, we’re still getting the hang of viewing habits and the overall landscape – for a small company, it’s very difficult to approach all markets at the same time – it takes work, especially the advertising piece.”

Ads interrupting channels streams?: If some channels are reluctant, Knecht admits it may be due to scepticism about its advertising model, which inserts animated ads in to the app