Ofcom's timing could not have been worse for NTL, the mega-lossmaking US cable operator whose operations are centred in the UK.

On Friday, the UK broadcast regulator announced a draconian reigning-in of the present broadcast transmission duopoly enjoyed by NTL and its US compatriot Crown Castle Communications.

NTL is preparing to sell its transmission business at the end of this year, thereafter focusing on its cable TV, internet and telephony interests. But the Ofcom plan will unquestionably undermine the unit's value - perhaps even torpedo a sale.

The two US companies between them own some 1,100 broadcast transmission masts in the UK. But under the proposed new rules [WAMN 12-Nov-04], they will be forced to grant third parties access to their masts and cease offering exclusive ingress deals to broadcasters. Ofcom also requires access bidding to become transparent and competitive.

NTL's licence to print money suddenly looks decidedly dowdy in the light of the regulator's proposals, currently in circulation to all interested parties for comment and input.

Data sourced from mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff