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EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Top TV firms scramble for licences
Digital set-top box
The service would be provided through set-top boxes
The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are among the firms to have submitted bids for the digital terrestrial television licences left by collapsed ITV Digital.

The licences to provide free-to-air digital television services are being offered by the Independent Television Commission (ITC), which aims to proceed speedily, announcing the results on 4 July.

The BBC has launched a bid jointly with Crown Castle, an international wireless firm, and aims to carry some programming from Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB.

ITV and Channel 4 have also bid in concert.

ITV is mainly owned by Carlton and Granada, the commercial broadcasters which jointly controlled ITV Digital.

Collapse

The pay television firm ITV Digital collapsed after failing to find either the money to settle its bills or a buyer for the business.

The three digital terrestrial "multiplex" licences formerly owned by ITV Digital are available.

Each multiplex licence gives the holder the right to carry four or more digital channels.

The licences can be awarded individually or as a group.

The BBC said its application proposed 24 free-to-view channels, which would allow for better quality reception than the previous 36-channel service.

The TV line-up would include all the BBC's digital channels, a maximum of three channels from Sky, plus UK History, a new channel from UKTV.

Amongst other channels expected to join are Boomerang, CNN International and Turner Classic Movies.

It said it would also offer interactive services and possibly BBC and commercial radio services via the television set.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jenny Scott
"It's turning into a battle"
Carolyn Fairburn, Director of Strategy at the BBC
"We think the market for digital has become very very confused"

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