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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 18:39 GMT
Set-top boxes to sell for 100
Digital
Viewers have been reticent about paying for digital
One of Europe's biggest set-top box makers plans to offer digital television for as little as 100 without viewers having to subscribe to any network.

Pace Micro Technology believes that by offering the technology at a cheaper price with no commitment the take-up rate for digital television will quickly increase.

The boxes, which will go sale at the end of March, will automatically offer more than 15 free-to-air digital channels.

The BBC and ITV have been in close talks with Pace, hoping the new box will accelerate the take-up of digital TV.

Digital radio set
Digital radio sets are also on sale
Pace has confirmed its technology will allow householders with analogue televisions to install the Pace Adapter themselves to receive a digital service.

The idea is to introduce news, information and entertainment channels that have previously been unavailable to analogue viewers.

The adapter converts any television into a digital TV and provides viewers with the option to upgrade to payTV services at a later date without purchasing extra equipment.

The government is forging ahead with plans to switch off analogue services by 2010, provided the requisite number of people have access to digital.

'Goal'

But some have been reticent about investing in new hardware because the technology is constantly being updated and is still considered expensive.

Malcolm Miller, chief executive of Pace, said: "However, low-cost free-to-view technology is just one part of the solution to full take-up of digital TV; to achieve full switch, we need to take a fresh look at digital content to ensure it is both useful and compelling.

He added that the BBC's launch of three non-subscription Digital TV channels was a "prime example of the content needed to ensure we achieve our goal".

He felt that the onus was now on the government to "continue to support industry initiatives" by providing clear, unbiased information to the public about digital TV.

Cost-effective

The BBC has been in talks with ITV since November about the future of its digital arms and the planned switch-off of analogue services.

The corporation has been discussing the way forward with ITV Digital to try and find a way to promote cost-effective digital television.

A spokesman for the BBC said: "We are always interested to know about developments in technology which will allow more viewers to access our digital channels."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Higham
"The Government wants us all to go digital by 2010"
See also:

15 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Digital horror stories
17 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Launch date for BBC digital radio
08 Jan 02 | Business
Pace cuts revenue forecast
07 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
New BBC channels get launch dates
30 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Digital radio campaign gathers
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