The UK's publicly-funded broadcaster, the BBC, has been accused of distorting viewer choice in the run-up to the great digital switch-over, scheduled for completion in 2012.

The Blair government's select committee on digital broadcasting was told by trade association Intellect that the broadcaster's promotion of the Freeview digital platform via a £40 ($69; €59) set-top box was discouraging viewers from buying more sophisticated and expensive alternatives.

Intellect says: "It is outside the BBC's remit to set price points in the market and the BBC should take a more responsible approach that does not inhibit consumer choice."

Counters the corporation's marketing chief Tim Davie: "Our research shows that licence fee payers want choice and affordable options."

The free-to-air digital service, backed by commercial broadcasters ITV and Channel 4, infrastructure provider National Grid Wireless and satellite broadcaster Sky, is now in more than five million UK homes. Digital TV overall reaches 15.7m households.

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff