BT to divest U.K. cable ops

Preparing to join British Interactive Broadcasting

LONDON — In compliance with demands from the European Commission, telco British Telecom will sell its U.K. cable television operators in order to clear the way for its place in British Interactive Broadcasting.

BIB — a consortium comprised of BT, satcaster BSkyB, Japanese electronics giant Matsushita and Midland Bank — has been set up to subsidize the cost of digital decoders for subscribers to BSkyB’s 200-channel digital platform, which is due to soft launch next month.

BT owns Westminster Cable — which serves inner London, including the House of Commons and the West End entertainment district — and another franchise in Milton Keynes outside London.

The European Union is adamantly holds position that national telcos should dispose of their cable TV interests to make way for more competition.

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