BBC moves toward free sat service

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LONDON -- The BBC's oversight committee has given a provisional green light for management plans to launch a free-to-air digital satellite service that would enable more license fee payers to watch free digital television.

BBC Trust interim chairwoman Chitra Bharucha said the Trust has opened a consultation period on the matter and will make a final decision in April.

The Trust is backing plans to open up the platform to other public service broadcasters. The service would potentially carry such channels as BBC News 24, kids' channels CBBC and Cbeebies, youth comedy channel BBC3, arts channel BBC4 and a number of digital radio stations. If broadcasters Channel 4 and ITV became involved, the platform could also carry such digital networks as E4, More 4, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4.

"Over half of those yet to switch (to digital TV) fall outside the Freeview coverage area," Bharucha said. "For these homes, the new service would mean being able to access BBC digital services they have already paid for via their license fee but until now have been unable to receive on a guaranteed subscription-free basis."
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