BBC details £326m digital TV plans

The BBC has revealed its plans to spend £326m on its digital TV services over the next two years, which now face scrutiny by government, consumer and commercial rivals ahead of a February decision.

LONDON (Brand Republic) - The BBC has revealed its plans to spend £326m on its digital TV services over the next two years, which now face scrutiny by government, consumer and commercial rivals ahead of a February decision.

Almost half of the budget, or £152m, for 2001 and 2002 is to be invested in its planned BBC 3 entertainment channel, which is seen as the corporation’s answer to Channel 4’s E4 which launched last night. BBC 3 currently exists as BBC Choice.

BBC 4, the proposed arts channel, has been allocated £57m over 2001 and 2002. The two controversial daytime children’s channels, which are facing fierce opposition from commercial broadcasters, have been allocated £82m over two years.

The five digital radio stations -- comprising a black music and news offering; a retrospective pop music channel; a comedy, drama and literature station; an Asian network; and a sports station -- will swallow around £29m in the first two years, with plans for continued investment thereafter.

The BBC also said it is to invest an extra £95m during 2001-2 in its core terrestrial offerings, BBC1 and BBC2. They will receive an extra £140m between 2003 and 2004.

Chris Smith, minister for culture, media and sport, will consult the industry and the public during the next five weeks. A decision on whether the digital offering goes ahead is expected at the end of February.