The publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation has reportedly scheduled a meeting with TV equipment manufacturers for November 29 to hammer out plans for the launch of adapters allowing consumers to receive free-to-air digital broadcasts.

Speculation about the scheme has been doing the rounds for the past couple of weeks [WAMN: 07-Nov-01], and has generally focused on the pooling of digital interests by existing terrestrial broadcasters to provide a free-to-air digital service.

However, it is unlikely any single broadcaster will actually build its own box, this task being handed to manufacturers such as Pace (set-top box market leader) and NovaPal, which plans to have a Set Pal device on sale by March.

The boxes will cost under £150 and offer about twenty channels before analogue services are shut down and forty after.

Channels available via the adapters will include existing terrestrial stations BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, plus digital offerings such as ITV2 and the forthcoming BBC3 and BBC4. The BBC and Flextech hope their jointly owned UKTV channels such as UK Gold and Play UK will make it onto the service, and there may even be room for a channel from Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB.

Five or six companies already involved in the scheme are expected to attend the meeting, designed to settle a framework for the introduction of the adapters. The BBC intends to launch a campaign backing free-to-air dTV in March.

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