Sky TV launches digital service

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The Independent Online
BSKYB YESTERDAY launched a range of mix-and-match programme deals for its new digital satellite service.

For pounds 11.99 a month BSkyB customers will receive a Family Package of around 40 channels which will carry all the existing free-to-air services of the BBC along with lifestyle, documentary, music and children's channels.

Around 15 channels will be available for pounds 8.99 in individual packages which the company will call Kids and Music, Knowledge, Life Style and Popular Mix. These middle-range deals are likely to escalate the warfare that has broken out between BSkyB and its digital competitor ONdigital.

Popular Mix alone, at pounds 8.99, will include most of the channels featuring on ONdigital's entire network. Overall, BSkyB will offer 200 channels at a price of pounds 29.99, to ONdigital's total of 30 channels.

For pounds 6.99, said a BSkyB spokesman, the customer can pay less than the BBC licence fee for a six-plus channel package that includes all the BBC free-to-air services plus additional channels. The company calls this deal its Value package. It is being touted as a challenge to the BBC. Industry insiders were asking why Sky viewers would want to pay the licence fee when they have already paid for all the BBC channels.

BSkyB's chief executive Mark Booth stressed the flexibility of the packages: "If you want to watch 25 films on Sky Digital, you can. If you want to look at 10 different documentary channels, you can."

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