01 July 1998

THE UK’S LARGEST cable operator, Cable & Wireless Communications, has announced plans to set-up its own interactive digital TV service, casting a long shadow over the launch plans of British Interactive Broadcasting. C& WC has exchanged letters of intent with a number of major companies, including Barclays Bank, Littlewoods, ITN, Associated News Media and British Airways. Together they will offer viewers a range of home banking, shopping and travel services within the framework of an interactive TV Mall. It will be Internet-based, a key factor in attracting C& WC’s service partners. BIB, still reeling from the loss of its second chief executive within a year, had hoped to become the interactive content provider to C& WC. However, alleged foot-dragging triggered the latter’s decision to go it alone. Says Peter Howard, director of programming and content at C& WC: 'In the absence of any concrete business from British Interactive Broadcasting, we want to get on and launch something'. The aggressive cable operator, which currently boasts 800,000 analogue subscribers, may offer its interactive services to other cable services and to ONdigital pay-TV.