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Sunday, 27 May, 2001, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
BT to begin broadcasting
Sir Christopher Bland
The BBC chairman brings television skills to BT
The BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland wants to make his new company, British Telecom, into a broadcaster in its own right, according to UK press and agency reports.

Under the leadership of Sir Christopher, who replaced Sir Iain Vallance as chairman in April, BT has begun looking at options for pumping TV programmes and internet content through its telephone cables into British homes.

Every home with a telephone line would be able to receive BT's service.

BT has already upgraded much of its network to make it possible to use the new ADSL technology for high-speed internet access and for broadcasting sound and moving pictures.

Threat

If the vision becomes reality, then BT will become a massive threat to the cable operators NTL and Telewest which have both invested vast sum in their fibre optic cable networks that criss-cross the UK.

Until now, the cable companies have been the only ones to offer bundled telecoms and television services.

But a ban on broadcasting by BT which was introduced when the telecoms giant was privatised in 1984 was lifted in January this year.

"We have been barred from getting involved in broadcasting but we will look at what opportunities there are," said a spokesman.

Some observers speculated that the indebted telecoms giant could join forces with BSkyB, Granada Media or OnDigital to ensure it has something to broadcast through its network.

Slashing debts

Sir Christopher is currently overseeing BT's massive restructuring programme.

The demerger of its mobile phone division, Cellnet and the sale of its online telephone directory Yell are parts of that process.

BT is struggling to reduce its debts and the company has asked its shareholders to inject more of their money through a near 6bn issue of shares which existing shareholders can buy at a discount.

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See also:

27 May 01 | Business
BT sells Yell for 2.1bn
10 May 01 | Business
BT attacks debt mountain
14 May 01 | Business
Bonfield bonus angers BT investors
26 Apr 01 | Business
Can Bland revive BT?
24 May 01 | Business
BT mulls Cellnet rebrand
18 May 01 | Business
BT launches GPRS phones
15 May 01 | Business
Bland invests in BT
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