Digital television trials are to launch in the UK before Christmas
following a deal signed last week between Cable & Wireless and British
The C&W-BSkyB deal will mean a joint launch for digital cable and
digital satellite TV next spring. However, before a full launch in the
first part of next year, C&W will be holding trials for 500 customers in
London by Christmas.
The aim of the alliance is to simplify the digital message for customers
of both cable and satellite TV and the two companies will co-ordinate
advertising and marketing efforts to promote digital TV to viewers.
The deal gives C&W customers access to BSkyB’s Sky Box Office of
pay-per-view movies and sport on both analogue and digital platforms, at
a stroke making Sky’s digital services available to analogue cable
The alliance also sees a split in the cable TV community between C&W,
the biggest player, and its rivals, Telewest, Diamond Cable, NTL and
General Cable, which have joined forces to launch their own
pay-per-view movie service.
The BSkyB-C&W tie-up is expected to strengthen BSkyB’s hand in future
negotiations with Hollywood studios for pay-TV movie rights.
At the same time, C&W is in discussions with a raft of US companies
about supplying interactive services to its 700,000 TV customers. Home
shopping and access to the Internet are likely to be part of the C&W
Graham Wallace, C&W’s chief executive, said the deal would avoid
consumer confusion and drive penetration.