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Sky to launch new pay service on DTT in UK

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MUMBAI: UK pay TV service provider Sky is developing plans for the launch of a subscription television service on digital terrestrial television (DTT) this year.

The new service will allow programmes - including sport and movies - through a conventional rooftop aerial and a DTT box for a monthly subscription.

By bringing back pay-TV content to the DTT platform, Sky aims to create more choice for customers who are interested in upgrading from free-to-air to pay-TV. This the firm says represents an attractive commercial opportunity, benefitting from existing investments in programming and infrastructure, and attracting new customers to Sky over and above current plans for the growth of Sky's satellite service.

The line-up of channels on the new service will offer a range of content including sports, movies, entertainment and news. The sports service will include live coverage from the Barclays Premiership and other events. Full details, including branding, pricing and the complete channel line-up, will be revealed closer to launch.

The new service will make use of existing capacity that Sky currently uses to broadcast Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News. As a result, these channels will cease to be available free-to-air via DTT in advance of the launch of the pay-TV service.

Sky plans to broadcast its pay-TV channels on DTT using the more efficient MPEG4 compression technology, bringing innovation to the platform and enabling Sky to offer four 24-hour video streams in place of the three Sky channels currently available, with further improvements expected in future. The pay-TV service will use a highly secure conditional access (CA) system similar to the one that Sky uses for its satellite television service.

To access the service, customers will buy a new set-top box that includes the relevant CA software and MPEG4 decoder. It is anticipated that once the service launches multiple manufacturers will have the opportunity to produce compatible set-top-boxes and other DTT receivers.

The launch of the new service is subject to approval by Ofcom of the necessary variations to licences held by Sky and National Grid Wireless, which provides DTT transmission and multiplexing services to Sky.

Sky COO Mike Darcey said, " We look forward to bringing some of Sky's most popular content to digital terrestrial viewers. This will give families more choice and increase the availability of leading content and channel brands."

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