British Digital Broadcasting? This must have something to do with Rupert Murdoch.

British Digital Broadcasting? This must have something to do with

Rupert Murdoch.

Not any more. British Digital Broadcasting has been set up by media

groups Granada and Carlton. Murdoch was originally involved via BSkyB,

but a ruling by the Independent Television Commission meant that Sky had

to sell its stake in BDB. However, it may remain one of the main

programme suppliers to BDB.

Who is running the show?

BDB poached Stephen Grabiner from United News & Media to be chief


Grabiner is currently being held to his year-long notice period by UN&M,

so he may miss the big launch at the end of this year.

What will BDB be offering viewers and how can they access it?

One key benefit of digital technology will be the improvement in sound

and picture quality. BDB will supply 15 subscription channels, free

versions of BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, BBC News 24 and a

subscription version of C4 films. However, consumers must buy a decoder

to receive the signal.

Great, more TV channels. Won’t they be full of cheap junk?

Not necessarily. Granada and Carlton are unlikely to put their names to

US-style drivel. But cost pressures will mean more opportunities for

advertisers to supply channels with their own programming. Agencies such

as Optimedia and St Luke’s are planning dedicated units to produce

advertiser-supplied programming.

Will I be able to advertise on any of the channels?

A moot point. The two owners of BDB, Carlton and Granada, are also the

suppliers of most of its 15 channels. The line-up will include channels

such as Carlton Select and Sky 1, which already carry ads, so there is

no reason to suppose this will change.

When will it launch? Will consumers know it as British Digital


BDB is saying only that the service will launch ’in the final quarter of

this year’. It has to start by the end of 1998 to comply with its

Independent Television Commission licence. The company is to use a

separate brand name, which recently appointed ad agency Abbott Mead

Vickers BBDO is now working on.

Is it true that TVs based on analogue technology will become obsolete

within the next few years?

Not for at least ten years, although viewers will have to buy set-top

boxes to use with their current TVs. Over the next few years

manufacturers will start selling TVs able to receive a digital signal.

Once these become standard, the government will decide when the TV

companies can turn off the analogue signal.