BSkyB unveils plans for free digital television service
British satellite broadcaster BSkyB has announced plans to launch free-to-air digital television channels alongside its pay-to-view services.
The broadcaster said it would launch a digital satellite service later this year offering 196 free television and radio channels along with interactive features.
Customers will have to pay a one-off cost of 150 pounds ($US274) for installation and equipment including a satellite dish but there will be no subscription charge to access the channels, the company said.
BSkyB will be competing against Freeview, in which BSkyB is a partner, and which already offers people in Britain free-to-air digital television channels for a one-off cost of 50 pounds.
BSkyB also announced that it was developing a premium range of channels for owners of wide-screen televisions, plasma screens and home cinema.
Due to launch in Britain in 2006 and already popular in the United States, the high definition TV format offers enhanced picture quality.
"These initiatives are another step in giving consumers a choice from Sky that suits their needs at the top and lower ends of the scale," chief executive James Murdoch said.
BSkyB currently has a customer base of 7.3 million for its pay-to-view services, with individuals paying up to 50 pounds per month to watch exclusive viewings of films and live sport on British television.