The government is to lift BT's broadcasting ban a year earlier than expected.
The UK telecomms giant, along with other operators, will be able to use their networks to broadcast services nationally from 1 January 2001.
In 1991, BT was prohibited from broadcasting over its network by the last government, which promised the ban would be lifted in 2002.
The president of the board of trade, Margaret Beckett, said the previous restrictions had caused "uncertainty" in the market.
The government has also told BT that broadcasting services over the Internet does not contravene the current restrictions.
BT is already involved in a number of broadcast initiatives including trials with Microsoft on Web TV, and an interactive TV venture with BSkyB.
The news coincides with the resignation of Rupert Gavin, managing director of BT's consumer division, who becomes chief executive of BBC Worldwide.
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