BSkyB to shut Open’s case

iTV service trading below expectations

LONDON — In another blow to new media start-ups, satcaster BSkyB is expected to announce next week that its interactive home shopping service, Open, will shut up shop for good.

Open, originally set up as British Interactive Broadcasting in 1998, a co-venture involving BSkyB, British Telecom, bank HSBC and Japanese tech giant Matsushita, is understood to have lost more than £116 million ($150 million) in the six months to Dec. 31.

Demand for the much-hyped service has been well below expectations. In February, only 650,000 retail orders were placed through Open, not enough business to generate a viable revenue stream.

It is understood that BSkyB will merge Open with its new media interests with Open MD Jon Florsheim tipped to take over the merged operation. Job losses are expected among Open’s 420 staff.

Open’s closure is expected to be announced May 9 with BSkyB’s quarterly results.

BT is the only other original shareholder still on board after BSkyB bought out the remaining partners last year. It is thought BT will be offered compensation in the form of BSkyB shares.

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