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May 8, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:32pm

BSKYB, BT, MATSUSHITA UNVEIL DIGITAL INTERACTIVE TV SERVICE

By CBR Staff Writer

British Sky Broadcasting Plc, British Telecommunications Plc, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co and Midland Bank Plc duly unveiled British Interactive Broadcasting Limited, BIB yesterday (CI No 3,154), a joint venture that will deliver the promises of digital interactive services to British viewers early next year. Through BIB’s interactive television system, viewers will not only be able to receive all kinds of television programs, they will also be able to use their television set for services such as banking – to check account balances, transfer funds between accounts and pay bills – or shopping, since high street businesses will launch interactive shopping services offering products for home delivery. However, customers wishing to enjoy these additional services, will need new digital set top boxes and remote control devices connected to an ordinary telephone line, and an adjustment to their existing satellite dish, since the specifications designated by BSkyB for the new services are different from the existing set-top box designs. The company has yet to disclose these specifications, but has now confirmed the boxes will be made by Amstrad Plc, Pace Micro Technology Plc, Grundig/Hyundai and Matsushita. The new set-top boxes will cost about 200 pounds, and although there would be no overall subscription to access BIB, customers may be charged for using specific services. The company seems confident that people will be prepared to throw away their old boxes and buy the new ones. It has already put in an order for 1 million of them. BIB’s services will be available to digital satellite television subscribers from the summer of 1998, following the launch of BSkyB ‘s digital broadcast service next spring. BIB will be owned 32.5% each by BskyB and British Telecom, 20% by Midland Bank and 15% by Matsushita. David Chance, deputy managing director of Sky said: The company would have an independent chief executive and a board made up of shareholders representatives and would have a funding requirement of approximately 265m pounds. Mr Chance also added that BIB is projected to break even within five or six years.

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