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BT muscles in on TV broadcasters

"And here is the news, brought to you by BT..."
Written by Sally Watson, Contributor

"And here is the news, brought to you by BT..."

BT has applied for a broadcasting licence in the hope of taking on cable rivals NTL and Telewest. If granted, the licence will allow BT to broadcast video and other programmes directly to its customers. The company had been restricted from developing a broadcasting strategy by regulations laid down following its privatisation in 1984. Those regulations expired earlier this year. The Independent Television Commission (ITC) confirmed it had received the application, but is unlikely to respond until the spring. "The applicant has committed to serve the minimum 1,001 homes in the 15-year licence period," the ITC said in a statement. "The licence will permit the company to offer a full range of television services in the whole of the United Kingdom." The ITC will refer the application to technical experts at the DTI and Oftel before reaching its decision. The recent appointment of ex-BBC chief Sir Christopher Bland as BT chairman had strengthened speculation that the telco wanted to turn itself into a broadcaster. A spokesman for the company said it made sense for BT to keep its options open. "We've not got anything specific to announce in terms of taking on Sky or the BBC, but it gives us an option," he told silicon.com. He added that the telco was "pretty confident" that its application would be successful. Earlier this summer, news leaked out of the telco that it was planning an extensive upgrade of its local network as it attempts to provide broadcasting and broadband services through its BT Openworld business.
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