NEWS: Sky reveals digital TV plan and moots venture with Virgin

BSkyB has confirmed that it will unveil a tranche of digital television services in the UK in the autumn of 1997 and is in talks with the Virgin Group about the launch of Virgin-branded satellite channels.

BSkyB has confirmed that it will unveil a tranche of digital television

services in the UK in the autumn of 1997 and is in talks with the Virgin

Group about the launch of Virgin-branded satellite channels.



The plans were revealed as Sky announced an increase in profits of 71

per cent to pounds 178 million for the nine months to the end of March.

Advertising accounted for around 11 per cent of total profits and ad

revenue was up 24 per cent on last year.



Sam Chisholm, the chief executive and managing director of BSkyB, said

that the results meant that ‘the company is strongly positioned to take

advantage of the further opportunity offered by digital technology in

the UK and mainland Europe’.



BSkyB has now reached agreement with the satellite operator, Societe

Europeene des Satellites, about a new satellite due to launch in autumn

next year. Sky will take around 14 transponders on the satellite and

these will be reserved for the new digital service in the UK.



The transponders will be used for a range of digital channels, with the

aim of encouraging existing Sky viewers to upgrade to digital receiving

equipment as soon as possible.



However, the extra programming is likely to come from a range of

suppliers looking for outlets for their material or a new means of

investing in television. BSkyB has already confirmed that it is in talks

with Richard Branson’s Virgin Group about extending the Virgin brand

into TV programming.



BSkyB is also said to be holding initial discussions with the BBC about

a joint satellite TV venture.



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