NTL, the UK’s number one cable TV operator, has forged an agreement to run a digital TV service for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The partnership, worth up to A$1.3bn, is the largest-ever such contract in Australia and represents NTL’s most valuable deal. It will last for 15 years, with an optional five-year extension.

The digital service via set-top boxes from January 1 will be available to subscribers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. NTL will run and manage the service, progressively extending coverage to encompass all Australia. It will not, however, provide content.

Boasted NTL chief executive Barclay Knapp: “We are one of the few companies in the world who have managed digital network roll-outs”. The group’s Australian managing director Tom Bennie was also in an upbeat mood. “NTL now has a very strong order book in Australia with many blue-chip customers,” he said. “This will enable us to grow the business, especially in the provision of infrastructure-based broadcast and telecoms solutions”.

The contract also seals NTL’s dominance until 2009 of the nation’s analogue transmission infrastructure, in which it controls 1,700 transmitters.

News source: Financial Times