Box squaring off against MTV U.K.

LONDON — U.K. cable music channel the Box is upping the stakes in its ratings battle with MTV, undertaking a three-staged entry into satellite television.

In the long term, the Box is set to be included in the 200 digital television services satcaster BSkyB plans to launch next spring, but, for the present, the Box began broadcasting last weekend on analog satellite for one hour daily (6 a.m. to 7 a.m.) and, come June, will air from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. daily.

On cable, the channel reaches about 1.7 million British homes, and satellite carriage will add approximately 5 million more households. MTV is available on both satellite and cable in the U.K.

Overall, MTV’s British TV ratings share is higher than that of the Box — with its average for the past year ending March 31 at 0.2%, as opposed to the Box’s 0.1% — but that does not factor in the Box’s considerably smaller reach.

The Box is an interactive, viewer request-driven music channel, like an audiovisual jukebox. It was wholly acquired by the U.K. publishing group Emap late last year for $12.5 million from the channel’s previous American owners, Video Jukebox Network and Ticketmaster.

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