BSkyB buys set-top box maker

Broadcaster pays $250 mil for Amstrad

Europe’s leading paybox, BSkyB, has once again surprised the media industry — this time by shelling out $250 million to buy U.K. set-top box manufacturer Amstrad.

Move should enable BSkyB to speed up the rollout of on-demand broadband programming, cut costs in the supply chain and catch up technologically with cable rival Virgin Media.

Satcaster will also have better control over how its products are designed and greater flexibility to improve the technology.

“It will help us to drive innovation and efficiency for the benefit of our customers,” BSkyB topper James Murdoch said.

Amstrad was BSkyB’s first set-top box supplier when Rupert Murdoch launched the satcaster in 1988. It still supplies about one-third of BSkyB’s boxes.

Alan Sugar, the maverick British entrepreneur who created Amstrad, will remain at the company.

In Blighty, Sugar is a TV celeb thanks to his starring role in the local version of “The Apprentice.”

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