CAMPAIGNDIRECT: SHOPPING WITH CAMPAIGN - Multi-channel television/In a new-style Shopping with Campaign, Eleanor Trickett pits rival companies against each other to vie for the elusive Campaign pound. This month, she goes multi-channel

My requirements are simple: cheap phone bills (my housemate is never off the blower), Sky One, UK Gold and the Paramount channel.

My requirements are simple: cheap phone bills (my housemate is

never off the blower), Sky One, UK Gold and the Paramount channel.

Sky Digital put me off balance to start with, as ’Michelle’ seemed

surprised and bewildered at having someone on the other end of the

telephone asking about the service, and went completely silent.

She revved up enough, eventually, to stutter information about the

pounds 40 installation (provided I subscribed for at least 12 months -

pounds 100 for fewer); the cheapest package (pounds 7) and the most

expensive (pounds 32).

What she didn’t tell me, until prompted, is that I could get 40 per cent

off my BT phone calls. This would be great, but the fact that the

service is running through my phone line somehow incurs a pounds 360

penalty if I decide to give it up before my 12 months are up.

With the cost of the channels I want, and factoring in the BT line

rental, I’m looking at around pounds 22 per month. The cheap phone calls

are tempting, as is access to the Open interactive service. I’m given

two other numbers (with no explanation as to what they are) to call for

more information. Why wasn’t I given those in the first place?

On to ONdigital. Friendly ’Tim’ took me through all the packages in

great detail, explaining that although the service isn’t linked to a

telephone operation, BT has got ’some sort of deal’ going on with

discounts off your bill.

The ’primary’ channels - at pounds 9.99 per month - sound good, although

it appears I can’t get Paramount. After rattling through details of the

’premium’ channels, Tim mentioned the free-to-air ones, which I’d

forgotten about (shame on me, media journo that I am).

Cost-wise, the ONdigital service is a similar story to Sky, but without

the interactive option.

Finally, Cable & Wireless. A clear, nay, outstanding winner, not only in

the service I got from ’Noble’ (yes, that really was his name and he

knocked ONdigital’s Tim into a cocked hat) but in the great offer he


More than the others, Noble wanted to know exactly what I wanted and it

seemed that there was a nifty little deal to suit my every whim. OK, so

I don’t get Paramount, but there’s loads of other stuff I want.

All told, with the channels I want, free local calls, no telephone line

rental, cheap national and mobile calls (one for my housemate) and free

upgrade to digital when it launches, I’m looking at pounds 12.99 a

month. They’ll even bung in an extra telephone socket in the kitchen so

that I can watch Friends in peace while my housemate talks for


I signed up on the spot.