Set-top technology confusion impairs digital’s UK launch

UK TV viewers are likely to face a confusing choice between two competing technologies when digital television launches later this year.

UK TV viewers are likely to face a confusing choice between two

competing technologies when digital television launches later this

year.



British Digital Broadcasting, the Carlton and Granada Television-backed

digital terrestrial TV consortium, is planning to use a set-top box

provided jointly by Canal Plus and the German media giant, Bertelsmann,

for decoding digital signals.



However, BSkyB, which is due to launch its own 200-channel digital

satellite television service this June, is using a different system

supplied by Datavom, a subsidiary of its parent company, News

Corporation.



The two rival systems are not compatible and BSkyB has warned that it

could take legal action if BDB goes ahead with a rival set-top box.

Unless the two systems are compatible, viewers will be forced to choose

between digital terrestrial or digital satellite.



BDB has insisted that its chosen system is ’in all material respects

interoperable’ with BSkyB’s, though it is understood that the first BDB

set-top boxes on the market will not be able to operate BSkyB’s

electronic programme guide, a necessary tool for navigating through 200

channels.



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