BSkyB to switch off analogue signal early

BSkyB, the UK satellite television broadcaster, is expected to announce plans tomorrow (July 26) to switch off its analogue satellite signal early in August 2001.

LONDON (Brand Republic) – BSkyB, the UK satellite television broadcaster, is expected to announce plans tomorrow (July 26) to switch off its analogue satellite signal early in August 2001.

The decision, expected during the company’s full-year results to be released tomorrow, could save the company up to £60m in transmission costs. But the broadcaster may have to make a one-off payment in the region of £30m in compensation to the Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES-Astra, from which it leases satellite capacity, for terminating the contract early. The switching-off date had originally been set for the end of 2002.

The £30m BSkyB expects to recoup from the early switch-off could be overshadowed by the loss it is expected to make from giving away digital set-top boxes, as it tries to remove encourage take-up of its digital service.

The speeding up in the analogue switch-off comes after the departure of James Ackerman, chief executive of BSkyB-owned interactive service Open, was made public. Ackerman is to join OpenTV, the interactive set-top software manufacturer which supplies Open, where he will be president and chief operating officer.

Ackerman has been Open chief executive for two years. The Open service, which launched last autumn, claims to have 6.1m homes now using it, making it the most successful interactive service in operation.

Jon Florsheim, currently sales and marketing director at Open, will take over as managing director. He is expected to shadow Ackerman until his departure.