The digital future

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The Independent Online
Digital terrestrial television promises the multi-channel era to the vast bulk of British viewers via existing rooftop aerials. Viewers do not need a satellite dish or cable.

A set-top decoder will cost up to pounds 500 initially but competition could cut that to less than pounds 200.

Within two years high street stores should be selling a new generation of TV sets with built-in decoders

The new digital channels are to be broadcast in six different clusters of multiplexes. Each group of frequencies has the capacity for between three and six channels.

Two of these multiplexes have already been awarded to the established forces in British terrestrial broadcasting - one to the BBC and the other to be shared by ITV and Channel 4, which is planning an art-house film channel.

A third multiplex will be shared by Channel 5, and the Welsh-language channel S4C, which will carry some Gaelic programming.