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June 25, 1997updated 04 Sep 2016 12:53am


By CBR Staff Writer

The UK Independent Television Commission has awarded three digital terrestrial television multiplex licenses to British Digital Broadcasting Plc after BSkyB agreed to withdraw from the bid. British Digital Broadcasting is now jointly owned by Carlton Communications Plc and the Granada Group, after British Sky Broadcasting Plc withdrew from the group earlier this week. Carlton and Granada have each agreed to buy half of BSkyB’s stake and to assume BSkyB’s funding commitments. The ITC said it had concerns about the dominance of BSkyB in the pay television market and last week suggested that its withdrawal from British Digital Broadcasting would make the bid more acceptable, a spokesperson said. BSkyB is now seen as not having a controlling interest in the winning group, but is still integral to the bid because as a spokesperson at the ITC said, without the content from BSkyB, there would be no content in the winning bid. British Digital Broadcasting was awarded the multiplexes over the only other contenders, Digital Television Network Ltd wholly owned by International CableTel, now called NTL Inc. The choice in favor of BDB was made because the ITC considered that BDB’s application offered a greater degree of assurance than that of DTN that the proposed services could be established and maintained throughout the period of the licenses. The ITC felt the BDB business plan was more cautious with funding coming from internal shareholder resources rather than from its parent company raising further debt as in the case of DTN. Of the four multiplexes advertised, one remains unallocated. The ITC said it hopes to make a decision by the end of July. S4C Digital Networks Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of S4C, is the only applicant. Digital 3 and 4 Ltd, owned by Channel 4 and the Independent Television Association, has been awarded the Channel 3/4 multiplex and the sixth multiplex has already been allocated to the British Broadcasting Corp.

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