British Telecom has offloaded its two remaining cable television franchises to NTL, a year after European Union regulators stipulated their sale as a condition of BT’s involvement in the British Interactive Broadcasting consortium.
The Milton Keynes and Westminster franchises have effectively been up for sale since last August when BT and its BIB partners, British Sky Broadcasting, HSBC Midland Bank and Matsushita, got the go-ahead for the digital interactive television and Internet service. (see Newswire 4 August, 1998)
The EU’s ruling was based on the fact that retention of the franchises would have provided the telco with a digital television monopoly in the two regions.
NTL paid a total of £19 million for the franchises, which together cover around 210,000 homes and has signed a long term lease for the networks, valued at £3.9 million annually.
NTL plans to spend around £15 million upgrading the infrastructure for digital cable, interactive services and high speed Internet access.
The company said it is in aggressive acquisition mode at present and yesterday announced it had entered exclusive merger talks with fellow big three cable operator Cable and Wireless Communications (see earlier story).
A spokesman for BT said cable television had been a non core business for the company.
The telco offloaded several cable franchises in the early 90s and the Milton Keynes and Westminster were its only remaining operations, he said.
Resetting the telemetry circuits and associated boards brought the instrument back to operations mode
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