BBC calls on Sky to co-operate on free digital satellite

The BBC has called on Sky to work with the other terrestrial broadcasters to create a non-subscription digital satellite platform.

According to the BBC's Digital Switchover Report, the creation of such a platform is essential if the Government is to achieve its goal of turning off the analogue TV signal in 2010.

While consumer interest in Freeview is high, the digital terrestrial TV platform has a limited coverage. However, the digital satellite system is available to 98 per cent of households.

The BBC currently transmits its services on digital satellite unencrypted, meaning that people can watch them without a Sky subscription. However, the other terrestrials have either remained encrypted or renewed their encryption carriage deals with Sky.

Elsewhere, the BBC report urged the Government to invest in the switchover process. This coincided with a request by the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, to the Treasury for £300 million to help fund the proposed switch from analogue broadcasting to digital.

The funding request, made as part of the annual spending round, will be used to pay for the marketing of digital television. It will also be needed to subsidise the areas of the population that might not be able to afford the initial investment.

The move to digital could be worth an estimated £2 billion to the UK, including the revenue that will be raised from the sale of analogue spectrum for mobile communications.

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