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Friday, June 5, 1998 Published at 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK

Business: The Company File

Sky is the limit for BBC

The BBC is moving into the digital television age

BBC channels will be made available to licence fee payers who subscribe for digital television under a new deal with BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster.

The BBC has signed a deal with BSkyB to broadcast its channels on digital television, a new hi-tech television system which will be launched later this year.

Licence fee payers who subscribe for BSkyB's satellite systems will be able to see BBC channels free of any extra charges.

BBC1 and BBC2, BBC News 24 and all five national radio networks will be available as soon as the system is launched as well as BBC Choice and new TV services, regional and educational programmes.

[ image: Radio stations will be included in the BSkyB deal]
Radio stations will be included in the BSkyB deal
The BBC also plans to launch BBC Learning, the UK's first public service learning channel for children, parents, teachers and adults.

A digital Ceefax text service which will have the capacity to handle images and later moving pictures is also being developed. Links to interactive and online services will be established.

The BBC is the first of the terrestrial broadcasters to sign up with BSkyB to offer services on Sky Digital television.

BBC Director-General John Birt, said: "The agreement means BBC licence payers receive our free-to-air public services in the digital age, whichever system they choose."

BSkyB chief executive Mark Booth said: "Carrying the BBC on Sky Digital will mean our customers benefit from more high quality programming, more widescreen programming and more original production."

"The BBC is rightly respected for the quality of its programming and its broadcast pedigree, and it is great to have them on board," he added.

The financial terms of the deal have not been released.

Digital television could eventually replace the traditional analogue televisions which are currently owned by most viewers in Britain.

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