Channel 5 talks to cable firms about retuning project

Channel 5 Broadcasting is in advanced negotiations with UK cable operators over plans to retune millions of VCRs and set-top boxes before the Channel 5 service is launched in January.

If the talks succeed, cable companies such as Telewest, Nynex CableComms and Bell Cablemedia will visit homes in their franchise areas on Channel 5's behalf to retune equipment, and could take the opportunity to market their own pay-TV services to current and potential cable customers.

Channel 5 Broadcasting, a consortium of Pearson, United News & Media (formerly MAI) and CLT, the Luxembourg-based broadcaster, is also in negotiations with the country's two largest TV rental companies, Granada and Thorn EMI, to cover rental equipment in homes. Both companies would use their own staff, or temporary workers, to retune up to 4 million sets.

Granada has also reached a separate deal to train all retuners on behalf of Channel 5.

The retuning exercise is viewed as one of the main obstacles to the success of the UK's last "free-to-air" TV channel. As many as 10 million homes in the UK will have to be visited, with about 5 million likely to be affected by interference from the playback signals of VCRs. Channel 5 originally planned to spend pounds 30.8m to mount the operation, plus another pounds 24.3m for marketing and administration, although TV rivals expect the amount could end up being far higher.

It is widely believed in industry circles that the retuning project is already well behind schedule and under-financed. Rivals for the licence bid double the amount set aside by Channel 5 Broadcasting, and most promised more supervisors and at least as many retuners for home visits.

"Everyone believes this has started too late," said an ITV insider, whose company will be competing directly with Channel 5. "There has to be some question about whether they meet their targets in time."

According to ITC requirements, at least 90 per cent of homes in affected areas must be retuned before the service is switched on in early 1997. Audience share will be crucial to the channel's early months on the air, when it will be seeking to build core advertisers.

Channel 5 has yet to agree a price per household to be paid to cable operators and the rentals companies if the sub-contracting arrangements go ahead. According to sources close to the situation, cable operators want as much as pounds 10 per household visited, while Channel 5 is offering far less.

Cable operators also differ over how many homes they want to cover. Some smaller companies have offered to cover customer homes only, while others see the visits as a prime marketing opportunity.

Channel 5 is still reserving the right to limit the amount of "sub-contracting". It is concerned about security and cost, and may elect to oversee the entire retuning exercise itself.

Channel 5 declined to comment on the talks with Thorn and Granada.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Jemma Gent: Project Coordinator

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Jemma Gent: In this role you will report to the Head of...

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable