01 May 1997

THE GADARENE RUSH into multi-channel digital TV is moving into overdrive ... The BBCis moving full speed ahead with its £30m plan to set-up a 24-hour digital news channel by this October - despite the fact that its initial host, Sky Television, has postponed its digital launch until next spring.

Oftel is twitchy about perceived threats to competition and consumer interests posed by Sky Television’s stake in British Interactive Broadcasting, currently bidding for a terrestrial digital TV licence. BIB is a joint venture between Sky and BT (30% each), Midland Bank and Matsushita with 20% apiece. Oftel fears that Sky’s pivotal role in BIB, combined with its dominance of the satellite market, will give the Murdoch-controlled company a stranglehold on the market. A confidential report on the matter has been passed to the ITC which will vet the bids.

Sky has announced some of the partners to provide interactive services for the BIB broadcasting service. They include HMV, the music, video and computer games retailer; J Sainsbury; Great Uni-versal Stores; and electronic publisher Dorling Kindersley.