Satellite channel announces digital TV revolution - quietly

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The Independent Online
BSkyB outlined its timetable for the digital TV revolution yesterday, but revealed little about precisely what it plans to serve up to the viewing public.

Cautiously unveiling plans for its digital satellite service yesterday, BSkyB admitted that its June launch will be a fairly modest affair.

"The meaningful launch will be in the fourth quarter," said Mark Booth, the company's chief executive, confirming that a major marketing push, to be devised by advertising agency M&C Saatchi, is scheduled for the peak Christmas sales period.

Outlining the company's interim results to the press and City analysts, Mr Booth said: "Sky's digital launch is on schedule and on budget ... It will be one of the big consumer product launches of 1998 and will certainly revolutionise the way we look at television." He added: "The savvy media players are saying this is a great moment in time and we agree."

BSkyB's supremo enthused about the "near video on demand" element, which promises to bring the equivalent of a multiplex cinema into our living rooms. A selection of hit movies will be constantly replayed at 30 minute intervals, allowing digital satellite subscribers "the chance to watch what they want when they want." Interactive home shopping and home banking will also be available from June, Mr Booth said.

The first set-top boxes will hit the high street stores in June, when they are expected to retail for around pounds 200.