HomeChoice chief in talks with Tessa Jowell to bring digital TV to high-rise households

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Video Networks, which relaunched its video-on-demand television service HomeChoice in May, is in talks with the Government about offering subsidised digital television services to help the planned analogue switch-off.

Video Networks, which relaunched its video-on-demand television service HomeChoice in May, is in talks with the Government about offering subsidised digital television services to help the planned analogue switch-off.

The Government wants to turn off analogue signals by 2012, when it hopes the nation's households will have converted to digital TV, via cable, satellite or ordinary aerials. But with existing technology, this may not be possible.

Over the summer, Video Networks chief executive, Roger Lynch, has had several meetings with Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Media, and BBC officials about how to reach those households which may be unable - or unwilling - to go digital.

HomeChoice allows viewers to watch television via broadband. As well as providing internet access, it offers digital channels and archived content - or "video on demand" - which is "called down" the broadband network by the viewer.

With government help, Video Networks could launch a slimmed-down, cheaper package of around 20 digital channels which could be broadcast via telephone wires as opposed to broadband, Mr Lynch said.

HomeChoice could be useful in blocks of flats where ordinary terrestrial aerials cannot be converted to Freeview and satellite dishes cannot be fitted, he said.

"If you have a council flat that does not have digital television there is not much point marketing a £27-per-month package. But if, in conjunction with the Government, we could offer a low-level digital and maybe telephony package, it could be appealing."

A spokesman for Ms Jowell confirmed talks had taken place, adding: "We welcome anything that increases choice. HomeChoice could prove attractive for someone who wants the service but does not have digital [or] cable, or if satellite installation is difficult."

The signal for the free-to-air digital terrestrial television service Freeview, seen as one of the main drivers for digital take-up with four million customers, covers only 75 per cent of the UK. Of the nation's 25 million households, 3.3 million have cable while 7.5 million subscribe to Sky.

Comments