Sky's largess fails to dent the opposition to digital

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ONLY A week after BSkyB and ONdigital began giving away digital set-top boxes for free, a major media research firm says much of the rise in demand is largely from consumers who had already intended to adopt digital.

CIAMediaLab, whose Sensor research programme has tracked consumer attitudes to digital television for the past year, also concludes that uncertainty about switching to digital television as well as outright opposition has grown.

That could frustrate moves by BSkyB, Carlton and Granada, the two ITV broadcasters that own ONdigital, to convince Secretary of State for Culture Chris Smith to set a date when the government would formally decide an eventual switch-off data for analogue broadcasts. A working party to consider the issue could be announced by the government later this week.

CIA found the percentage of consumers saying they will "never" adopt digital television rose to 28 per cent at the end of May from 23 per cent at the beginning of the year. It has also found the number of consumers who are unsure when they will go digital rose to 16 percent at the end of May from 12 per cent at the end of March.

A spokesman for ONdigital dismissed the survey, pointing to buoyant high street demand for its digital terrestrial set-top boxes. "The evidence of our eyes and our dealers' eyes is that the interest in digital has taken off in the most enormous way since we launched free digital boxes."

Notwithstanding the advent of free digital set-top boxes, CIA says the number of people intending to convert to digital television has stayed the same at 17 per cent over the past three months. "This suggests that the recent reported rush in set-top box sales may have come from consumers who already intended to go digital taking advantage of the give-away offers," said David Fletcher, head of strategic planning.

A BSkyB spokesman observed: "Theories like that are all very well but what matters is response to the offer. We've had hundreds of thousands of calls."