ITV Digital customers get set-top box deal

Customers of the defunct broadcaster, who had been asked to return their set-top boxes, have now been made a new offer by the liquidators

The liquidators for ITV Digital have said former customers of the bankrupt broadcaster will be allowed to keep their set-top boxes, which can now be used to view channels broadcast by Freeview -- the BBC-backed digital service.

Originally liquidator Grant Thornton had hoped to get £40 from customers who wished to keep hold of their set-top box, and asked those who didn't to return them -- but it has now conceded defeat in the face of the logistical nightmare involved in managing the process.

ITV Digital gave out the boxes free of charge to customers who signed up to one of the pay-TV packages on offer for a minimum 12 months -- however, the massive costs associated with this loss-leader approach was one of the contributing factors to the company's early demise.

Rival operator, and market leader, Sky Digital requires customers to pay up front for installation as well as demanding minimum term subscription to pay-TV packages. Cable operators NTL and Telewest also levy installation charges.

ITV Digital's parent companies Carlton and Granada invested more than £1bn in setting up the digital terrestrial broadcaster. The venture was mired in around £1.25bn of debt when it finally stopped transmitting last May.

Around one million customers signed up with ITV Digital. Since the company went under those customers have still been able to enjoy a variety of digital channels unavailable on normal terrestrial television -- without monthly subscriptions and without the one-off cost of buying a Freeview box.

As such it is likely that liquidator Grant Thornton would have found it difficult to encourage users to return the boxes or pay-up for something they were previously using free of charge.

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