BT Steps-Up TV Smoke Signals

09 January 2002

Carefully orchestrated smoke signals about an impending move into broadcast digital TV are wafting ever faster from British Telecom’s tepee. Only last weekend BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland – a former chairman of the BBC – told the Sunday Times that the telecoms titan could join the UK’s cable-TV industry as a broadcaster “within two years” [WAMN: 07-Jan-02].

It is improbably coincidental, therefore, that the chief executive of a leading UK manufacturer of digital set-top boxes, Malcolm Miller of Pace Micro Technology, went public on Tuesday: “We believe BT will start launching towards the back end of this year. If they leave it two or three years I don’t think they will have much of a telephone business left,” he opined. Pace is currently in discussion with BT over issues not unrelated to the supply of set-top boxes.

If BT makes its move into cable-TV, as seems inevitable, it will become the sole UK player in the sector, breaking up the duopoly currently enjoyed by US-owned networks NTL and Telewest.]

[WAMN readers with long memories will recall that broadcast ambitions have long been at the head of BT’s agenda, although these were frustrated in the early 90s by the government of the day which feared that giving a green light to BT – a former state monopoly and the nation’s dominant cable network operator – would throttle budding competition within Britain’s then nascent cable industry.

News source: The Times (London)