Debt-laden BT has inked deals with broadcasters BSkyB and ITV Digital to bundle digital TV offerings with its phone service in a bid to go head-to-head with cable firms.
BT will spend £10m promoting the new services, which become available from 11 August. The telco said that similar deals were likely in the future reflecting what it describes as "the high customer demand for these services to be marketed and sold together".
Yesterday, BskyB applied for its own Digital Subscriber Line licence fuelling speculation that it may launch a combined high-speed phone/internet line and digital TV package or link with BT.
BT said its research showed that some customers felt they had to change to cable to get digital TV. Angus Porter, managing director at BT Consumer, said: "Our customers sometimes mistakenly believe they need to move their telephone line to a cable operator to get access to digital TV."
"That's absolutely not the case and, with these new deals, we'll be taking that message right into our customers' living rooms as part of our joint marketing campaign," he added.
But cable firm NTL has pointed out that its service is still cheaper. A spokesman said: "NTL offers millions of customers combined digital TV and a telephone line for just £14.99 a month. The cheapest offer from BT and BSkyB costs £19.99 per month, has fewer digital TV channels included and costs £60 more a year than NTL.
"Today's discount from BT of £30 per year on Sky Digital is a one-off payment so it doesn't come close to bridging the £60 gap."
The deal is BT's latest effort to turn itself around by selling assets and raising new funds after racking up debts totalling about £28bn from the acquisitions of high-speed mobile phone permits and wireless assets.
In May, vnunet.com reported that the firm was looking at moves into cable TV to help reduce its debt.
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