- The launch of digital terrestrial television at the end of this year will be backed by £100 million worth of free cross-promotional airtime on the BBC, ITV, and Channels 4 and 5, Nigel Walmsley, the chairman of Carlton Television, told delegates at TV'98 last week.
All free-to-air digital TV channels will be advertised on the existing terrestrial TV services in a bid to drive take-up of the DTT set-top boxes and encourage viewers to switch over from analogue to digital TV.
However, news of the planned promotional activity has inflamed the issue of advertising on the BBC, and has added weight to calls for the BBC to be opened up to public service advertising in a bid to reduce airtime inflation on ITV and Channel 4. As well as revealing details of the DTT campaign, Nigel Walmsley, chairman of Carlton Television, tried to stem criticism that British Digital Broadcasting, the digital terrestrial service led by Carlton and Granada Television, will not expand viewer choice.
He said the BDB line-up will include a raft of new launches: Carlton Films, including classic movies such as the Carry On series; Carlton Public Eye, which will carry docu-drama style law and order programming; Carlton Entertainment, which will offer a general light entertainment service; and UK FM, which will focus on lifestyles. Granada TV Shopping, in association with Littlewoods, will also form part of the BDB line-up.
Walmsley said he was confident that films and sports from Sky will be carried on BDB in spite of recent legal wrangles over their availability. Pay-per-view events and movies, on-screen programming guides and enhanced teletext services will also be available on BDB. However, Walmsley admitted that the initial BDB set top boxes will not allow the full range of interactivity that will be introduced in later models.