ITC joins U.K.’s set-top tiff

BDB, BSkyB in digital debate

LONDON — The U.K.’s Independent Television Commission is wading into the fray between British Digital Broadcasting and British Sky Broadcasting over the standardization of set-top digital technology.

The ITC, Britain’s commercial TV regulatory org, is organizing a meeting within two weeks to try to resolve a legal battle between digital terrestrial broadcaster BDB and satcaster BSkyB — or, “bang heads together” as ITC chairman Robin Biggam put it.

BSkyB has issued a writ accusing BDB of reneging on an agreement to make set-top boxes 100% compatible. BSkyB says BDB’s technology will not provide consumers with an electronic programming guide compatible to that of the satcaster. An electronic guide is considered a crucial navigational tool for viewers.

News Corp-controlled BSkyB is skedded to launch its 200 channel digital platform in June. BDB — which is co-owned by Carlton Communications and Granada Group — plans to launch 15 digital terrestrial services in the fall.