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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 19:45 GMT 20:45 UK
Dyke attacks ITV Digital's owners
ITV Digital monkey
The BBC is discussing a replacement free-to-air service
BBC director-general Greg Dyke has attacked the heads of Carlton and Granada for not taking responsibility for ITV Digital's collapse.

He also spelled out the BBC's proposals for replacing ITV Digital with a free-to-air service.


Of course, Granada shouldn't take all the blame for what happened to ITV Digital - just half of it

Greg Dyke, BBC director-general

He told a lunch of advertisers and commercial broadcasters: "In the old days, if they lost an awful lot of their shareholders' money, generals fell on their swords.

"These days it's much more common for the generals to award themselves more share options while thrusting their swords into trusted lieutenants."

The comment was seen as a reference to Stuart Prebble, who has stepped down as chief executive of ITV.

In 1994 Granada acquired London Weekend Television, where Mr Dyke was managing director, bringing to an end one of the most fiercely contested takeover battles in television history.

"As the Italians say: 'revenge is a dish best delivered cold'," Mr Dyke quipped.

"Of course, Granada shouldn't take all the blame for what happened to ITV Digital - just half of it."

Free-to-air

Mr Dyke said the collapse of ITV Digital showed that the future of digital television through an aerial - as opposed to cable or satellite dish - lay in a free-to-air service, offering viewers an extra 10 to 15 channels through a receiver costing 99.

It also showed there was not room for three competing pay-TV systems.

Greg Dyke
Dyke wants ITV Digital replaced by a free-to-air service
He said nowhere in the world had three competing pay-TV services survived, adding that one advantage of the BBC's proposal was that there could be fewer channels.

That meant the signal power could be increased - solving the reception problems suffered by ITV Digital.

The BBC is in talks with commercial channels about a joint free-to-air service, but so far no agreement has been reached.


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