UK Telco, BT Group Move Towards TV

There were two pieces of news today about the UK incumbent telecom provider, BT, getting closer to broadcast television. One, an official announcement that they will joint market UK Freeview (UK Free-to-Air Digital TV) receivers, the other in today’s Financial Times, that they are set to announce plans to enter the pay-per-view TV market with the launch of a new BT-branded digital TV and Internet service. It is possible that they are both the same story.

The financial markets response to BT previous discussion of getting involved with broadcast back in January 2003 was not positive, with their shares price dropping.

The FT Telecoms Correspondent, Robert Budden, reported that BT are in discussion with two companies that currently make Freeview boxes, SetPal and NetGem, with an aim to retail the STB’s for £129 when the service formally launches in the summer of next year. The exact details of the services are not know, but Time Shifted, PVR-type functions are expected as a minimum. It should also be noted that BT was granted a licence to broadcast back in March this year.

BT have realised that providing just the DSL connectivity to peoples houses will become a commodity – a utility in effect. With this area only become more competitive, it is not where the money will be made.
BT shares rose 1.62% today.

FT – BT piece