British Telecom, the near monopolistic giant that dominates the UK telecommunications sector, has quietly filed for a license to offer video and other programming – a move that will bring it eyeball-to-eyeball with cable providers, satellite companies and TV networks.

Although BT has made no formal statement about its intentions, industry onlooker believe the filing signals a move into the broadcast sector. Regulators are expected to give the application the green light within weeks.

BT has long been eager to enter the TV market, held back only by government restrictions (now expired), and four years ago conducted in-depth tests of interactive TV in the London satellite-town of Colchester. Industry speculation has been further fuelled by the fact that BT’s new chairman, Sir Christopher Bland, was a senior executive in commercial TV prior to his just-vacated appointment as chairman of the nation’s publicly-owned BBC.

BT spokesperson Tony Henderson played it cool, although he admitted the company had applied for a license: “Applying for a license gives us the opportunity to explore this area. We want to keep our options open.”

News source: New York Times