United Kingdom ready for digital

Majority of homes get digital TV on main set

LONDON More than 80% of U.K. homes receive digital television on the main set. This is according to research published June 20 by British media regulator Ofcom, which shows that in the first quarter of 2007 take up of digital TV was 80.5% (20.4 million homes), up from 77.2% the previous quarter.

Freeview, the digital terrestrial service, is available on the main set in 8.4 million homes (up from 7.7 million), overtaking satcaster BSkyB’s 8 million subscribers.

Freeview, backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and BSkyB, gained 1.96 million viewers in the period, a hike of 61%.

BSkyB added 32,020 subscribers in the quarter, but the emergence of Virgin Media, the rebranded NTL, saw U.K. cable rise to its highest level of take up — 3.4 million subscribers — in almost five years.

Cable added 36,100 subscribers, the first time since 2001 that cable has out-performed BSkyB.

Blighty will start turning off analog transmitters in October when the town of Whitehaven in northwest England becomes the first to go digital.

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