Bell rejects BSkyB restrictions

BY MATHEW HORSMAN

Bell Cablemedia, the third-largest UK cable company, is prepared to sign a long-term contract to broadcast programming from the cable and satellite broadcaster BSkyB, its chief executive, Alan Bates, said yesterday.

But the company would not accept "non-competition" clauses prohibiting it from investing in or broadcasting sports or films which competed directly with BSkyB.

Such non-competition clauses, included in contracts signed between BSkyB and the two large UK cable companies, Nynex CableComms and TeleWest, are the focus of complaints by the cable industry lodged with the Office of Fair Trading and competition authorities in Brussels.

"It just doesn't make sense to have a monopoly provider and it certainly isn't in the best interests of viewers," Mr Bates said.

Bell Cablemedia would continue to encourage "cable exclusive" programming, working with other cable companies, even if it signed a long-term service agreement with BSkyB.

Mr Bates also revealed details of a three-way trial with Nynex and TeleWest to test interactive multimedia services over an 18-24 month period. The companies are to look at technical viability, billing systems and customer response to various entertainment and educational products.

Eugene Connell, president of Nynex, said the trials had "the potential to provide exciting new products to home and businesses".

During the technical stages of the trial, the three companies will attempt to create a workable national network of broadband services accessible by all cable operators.

The marketing stage, considered by the partners as the most important, will generate information about the kinds of services consumers might actually pay for. Three franchise areas, one from each of the partners, will be selected for the trials, and a minimum of 2,000 customers will take part.

The project's backers stressed they would be able to benefit from economies of scale by working together. They also said that the results would be shared with other cable operators.

The multimedia tests were seen by the cable industry as a necessary response to the technical and marketing trials being done in Ipswich by BT, which is testing video on demand and home shopping services using telephone lines.

Bell Cablemedia also announced yesterday that profits had climbed to pounds 1.2m in the three months to March, compared with a loss of pounds 3.1m last time, although the figures were inflated by a pounds 9.1m gain from the public offering of shares by Videotron, in which Bell Cablemedia has a 26.3 per cent interest.

Ross Cope, finance director, said that, without the gain, losses would have climbed to pounds 7.9m, as the company continues to build its basic network. During the quarter, 60,000 more homes were passed, bring the total to about 422,000. When complete, the network will pass 1.7 million homes.

The company confirmed, however, that "churn," the rate at which customers disconnect from the system, remains at a high 40 per cent for cable and 20 per cent for telephone services.

Bell CableMedia has set up a trial in one of its franchise areas to test ways of reducing churn rates, including more comprehensive credit checks and yearly contracts. Mr Bates said churn in the test market had been reduced to about 20 per cent.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?