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May 12, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:31pm

TELEWEST LAUNCHES FEROCIOUS ATTACK ON BIB DIGITAL TV PLAN

By CBR Staff Writer

The gloves are off in the fight for pre-eminence in the UK digital television market. Following last Wednesday’s launch of BIB or British Interactive Broadcasting (CI No 3,156) which offers digital programming via satellite dishes, Telewest Communications Plc has once again vaulted into the ring. Not content with simply declaring its results for the quarter to March 31, Telewest, which claims to be the UK’s leading cable operator, felt the need to issue a caustic rebuttal to BIB’s fanfare launch. Chief executive Stephen Davidson dismissed news of the rival launch as ‘old hat’ and accused the new joint venture of having already fallen six months behind schedule. He questioned whether the company was in any way relevant to the majority of households in the UK, claiming that two out of three new customers subscribing to BSkyB’s existing programs choose to do so via cable and not by using a satellite dish. In the meantime, Telewest made losses of 67.7m pounds in its first quarter, up from losses last time of 53.4m pounds on revenue that climbed 38.7% to 90.4m pounds. Cable television now accounts for 42% of revenues with 54% coming from telephony services. Its own plans to launch digital services are said to be on schedule for October this year but it is still unclear exactly what will be available to the company’s cable subscribers.

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