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July 20, 1998

DTV TO LEAD UK DIGITAL BROADCASTING MARKET

By CBR Staff Writer

UK Digital terrestrial TV operators will have the edge over digital cable and satellite rivals, according to a new report from media research publisher Continental Research. By 2003, 2.8 million UK homes will subscribe to digital terrestrial TV, Continental Research says, compared to 2.6m digital cable subscribers and 2 million digital satellite subscribers. Continental Research predicts that a total of 12.9 million UK homes will subscribe to multi-channel TV in 2003, of which 7.4 million will be digital subscribers, 3.6 million analog satellite, and 1.9 million analog cable. Continental Research says that pay-per-view films and online services such as access to the web via the television, home shopping and banking will tempt people to subscribe to digital TV. However, digital cable will attract a younger audience than its two rivals because of its potential for fast internet access, an article in the Financial Times quotes Continental Research chairman John Clemens as saying. This autumn, British Digital Broadcasting, which is owned by ITV companies Carlton and Granada, will launch 15 digital terrestrial channels; and BSkyB, the UK’s main satellite TV operator, will launch its 200-channel digital satellite service. The cable companies are aiming to launch their 200-channel digital services before the end of 1998. However, many analysts predict that the cable companies will delay the launch of full digital services until 1999, which could substantially reduce the number of digital cable subscribers in 2003. Mr Clemens says that digital terrestrial TV will succeed because it will attract a new audience of people who have not yet subscribed to multi-channel TV. Many subscribers to digital cable and satellite services will upgrade from their existing analog connections, he argues. Because it does not require a cable link or satellite dish, digital terrestrial TV is simpler to install, although subscribers will have to buy a 200 pound digital set-top box.

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