BSkyB to switch off analogue signal

LONDON - BSkyB is to begin switching off some of its analogue channels this week in an effort to encourage consumers to switch to digital.

The first channels to go in the switch-off include Sky News, Sky Moviemax, and Sky Sports 1 and 3. These will be joined by the Disney Channel and shopping network QVC.

The move follows a promotional campaign run by the broadcaster offering an upgrade to a digital service. It is said to be trying to chivvy customers along by cutting some of their services.

However, consumer groups are understood to have warned against turning off analogue signals early and asked broadcasters to delay switching off their analogue services.

The government has set a deadline of 2010 for everyone to switch to digital and wants broadcasters including ITV and the BBC to start switching off some analogue signals in 2006.

Meanwhile, BSkyB parent News Corp's takeover of US satellite TV provider DirecTV could wipe around $2.4bn (£1.7bn) off the global media giant's value, according to a report by investment bank ABN Amro.

The report forecasts that the merger between BSkyB holding company Sky Global Networks and Hughes, parent of DirecTV, will leave News Corp with a 27% stake in combined business.

This would initially value the company's assets lower than their pre-merger worth, which could result in a $2.4bn immediate depletion in the value of News Corp, the report said.