The formation of British Interactive Broadcasting (BIB) was officially announced today by its shareholders - BT, BSkyB, Midland Bank and Matsushita Electric.
BIB will develop an interactive television platform for companies such as Sainsbury, HMV, Thomas Cook and publisher Dorland Kindersley, enabling them to offer services ranging from home shopping to online banking. It will also offer educational programmes and specialist local community and national public information services.
The group aims to launch a service to digital satellite TV subscribers from next summer, soon after the introduction of BSkyB?s digital broadcast service.
Customers will also be able to email and surf the Internet using their TVs connected to a satellite set-top box.
Rupert Gavin, BT?s director of multimedia services said: ?Digital broadcast has a vital part to play in the development of the information society. This new venture will open up the information age to the television viewer - not just the PC user.?
The group said it will help subsidise the cost of the set-top boxes and the development of the technological infrastructure to the tune of #265 million, but the boxes will still cost the average punter around #200 each. BT and BSkyB will each own 32.5 per cent of BIB, while Midland and Matsushita will command 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. The launch had been delayed by six months because of extensive investigations by telecomms watchdog, Oftel.
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