According to a report in the Mail on Sunday, the BBC’s Freeview is ‘outselling’ BSkyB on Britain's high streets by a factor of six to one. More precisely: the set-top digiboxes needed to receive digital transmissions are outpacing new subscriptions to BSkyB’s satellite pay-TV service.

From where this impressive statistic was dredged, the MoS fails to say, instead attributing it to that venerable standby of journalists short on time and long on creativity, “industry sources”.

Equally strapped for facts, the UK advertising and marketing press this week picked-up and ran with the story – which even if true, is meaningless as it compares chalk with cheese. Digibox sales are almost entirely retail-based, unlike BSkyB subscriptions which are overwhelmingly sold direct.

Sky is predictably unfazed by the report. “Our single largest sales channel is direct to consumer. We know that Freeview appeals to people who are not interested in pay television, but we are still on target of signing up seven million consumers by the end of the year,” it said loftily.

Freeview added 300,000 new digital terrestrial homes in the last quarter of 2002, bringing its total number of viewing homes to 1.3 million. Sales data for Q1 2003 has yet to be published.

Data sourced from: Mail on Sunday (UK); additional content by WARC staff