ONdigital furious at `smear'

ONDIGITAL, the digital TV operator, yesterday accused its competitors of trying to mount a last-ditch smear campaign to disrupt its launch this Sunday.

Shares in Carlton and Granada, the joint backers of ONdigital, fell on rumours that only 43 per cent of homes would have access to a full service at the launch of the operation.

Shares in Carlton closed off 5 per cent at 403p as the speculation grew that there may be problems with the launch. Granada fell 2 per cent to 886p.

The share price fall was triggered by research sent to institutions yesterday that concluded: "ONdigital will be able to provide a full service to 43 per cent of households, compared to BSkyB's 100 per cent national coverage."

The research was published under the name of Claritas, a little-known consumer research group. Data for the research was supplied by the Independent Television Commission.

Carlton and Granada denied there were any problems with set-top boxes, due to go on sale on Sunday, and claimed rival companies were deliberately spreading disinformation.

Andrew Marre, spokesman for ONdigital, said: "Everything is going fine with the launch. This speculation is simply not true." He added that the company expected to give coverage to 70 per cent of households this year and 90 per cent next year. Ondigital pointed to surveys published by trade magazines which showed that Sky's coverage was less than 100 per cent.

A spokesman for Carlton said: "ONdigital is going to be on air, on time." A press launch for the set-top boxes will take place today and boxes will be on sale on Sunday, he added.

Analysts yesterday raised concerns that ONdigital may have failed to generate enough public interest. One said: "If they are launching in four days' time, their marketing has been pretty low key."

Granada hinted that the rumours originated with arch-rival Sky Digital and had no substance. "All these rumours are being chucked into the market and there has been no truth in them," the spokesman said.

A Sky spokesman denied any smear campaign. "We have gone out of our way to say we are not going to respond to any of these suggestions of problems with our competitors."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific