France Telecom service rival for BT

France Telecom has confirmed plans to roll out its broadband TV service in the U.K. later this year — a move that will put it in direct competition with Brit telco BT.

New service will be offered under the Orange brand, which will be used for all of France Telecom’s mobile, Internet and TV services in the U.K. and France, including its French ADSL service MaLigne TV, beginning this month.

BT is planning a fall launch for its BT Vision service, which will combine a DTT box with a package of video-on-demand offerings and interactive services. Despite rumors of technical problems with the Microsoft TV software on which the service is based, BT has said it will launch on schedule.

According to press reports, France Telecom’s service will include DTT channels, as well as a seven-day catch-up service and VOD. As yet no content deals have been unveiled, although Orange U.K. is reportedly hoping to carry BSkyB’s premium sports channels.

MaLigne TV has more than 200,000 customers in France and carries both free-to-air channels and pay TV services offered by Canal Plus and TPS. It also has VOD deals with a number of Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros.

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