ONdigital's script for journalists

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Scripts for OnDigital press conference written a week before the 11 July event


Q What are your latest subscriber numbers?

A At xxxxxxx, as at the end of June 2000, they're very sound results showing steady growth. They're exactly what we had anticipated. We're on budget and on course for1 million by the end of the year.

Q Why do Sky have so many more?

A They don't, in reality. They start with millions of analogue subscribers to convert. But when you count new customers, we believe that our real growth and that of Sky are very close.

Q Now there is no shortage of idTVs are they selling well?

A The market for idTVs is growing steadily. By this Christmas we expect they will be a top seller for retailers. We have now introduced a new promotion in which every idTV comes preloaded with 3 ONdigital primary channels, like a prepaid ONdigital box. For those sets which do not have the ONdigital system built in we have a plug in module the size of a credit card which we will provide to anyone who takes a subscription.

Q Churn rates? Numbers in hotels?

A Churn is much at the level we predicted. People leaving at the end of their initial 12 month subscription are running at less than 1/2% a month. We now have 32,000 boxes in hotels and hospitals; still much less than Sky.

Q What are your targets for the next two years?

A To reach 1 million this year and 2 million subscribers in 2002.

Q What about internet access? Will that ever come? And will it be full web access or just a limited access?

A See internet Q and A

Q But you don't have real interactivity like Open, on Sky?

A On the contrary - we have digital text and subtitles (not on Sky), email, games, an offer channel, more interactive advertising than Sky and interactive programming (not on Sky) - the list is almost endless - and with the Internet coming this year, ONdigital can fairly claim to be the market leader.

Q Who are your partners in the project?

A We have announced that the French company Netgem will be our technology partner. BBC Resources are designing our stunning new portal with assistance from consultants. We plan to announce other partners in the run up to the launch.

Q But there are more and more internet through the TV services coming onto the market - why should yours be special?

A We believe we will be offering the best such service

Q Haven't NTL stolen a march on you with their announcement of a box with free to air channels, Microsoft TV, interactivity and a hard disk built in, from the end of the year?

A We're happy to see new suppliers coming into the market. Anything that expands the DTT market is good news for ONdigital.

Q Why don't you ever talk about the Adult Channel or TVX?

A We're delighted with the success of the Adult Channel which achieved a take-up of more than 1% of our customer base in its first 48 hours. We expect TVX to do just as well.

Q Why has ONrequest only got two studios signed up so far?

A It started with two of the most important - Universal and Paramount - but it is talking to all the other studios and hopes to make more announcements soon.

Q What's your coverage now? How much more will boosting your transmissions give you?

A The figure is rising all the time. It is up to over 70% for the best multiplex and rising all the time.

Q What more can you do to improve it?

A We, the Government and the ITC are all committed to expanding coverage as fast as possible. We're looking at all sorts of ways of achieving this - more power from existing transmitters, more transmitters and other techniques. By this autumn we will have brought an extra million households into full coverage in London and the South East.

Q So why have you been telling us that you had coverage of anything between 70% and 90%

A These figures were the highest figures quoted by the ITC for the most powerful of the multiplexes, that is the BBC multiplex. We did not claim for ONdigital, but for DTT. Experience is consistently giving us a better picture.

Q Why did you bid for so many football rights? Weren't you losers?

A Because we thought we could make more of them than the existing rights holders had! We're delighted with the outcome. Our customers will get more football than those of any other platform. Not only will they get the Football League and Worthington Cup rights that we have bought (not to mention the Champions League!), they will also, because of our contracts with Sky and NTL, have access to all the rights they have bought. And with Premier League highlights coming to ITV, satellite customers will not see them digitally. It really has been a great outcome for us.

Q Will you sell the rights to other platforms?

A We intend to use the major sports rights we have - UEFA Champions League, Football League, Worthington Cup and ATP Men's Masters Tennis as the foundations for a top quality premium sports channel. We will listen to offers from any platform which wants to carry the channel. But we have no obligation to sell the rights to anyone else.

Q What will the channel be called?

A We haven't decided yet - it won't be on air for another year!!

Q Can you give us a target date for flotation?

A No, that is ultimately a matter for our shareholders to decide.

Q But they obviously can't agree while mergers are being discussed

A I'm afraid I have nothing more to say

Q By adding e-mail and internet, more channels and interactivity aren't you moving away from your usp - simplicity?

A Not in the least. As we introduce these and other services, you will find that we present them to customers in a uniquely user-friendly way, taking them by the hand and leading them into the interactive world.

Q Will you charge for UEFA Champions League next year? How much?

A We have not yet made any decision on this. From the season starting in 2001 it will be part of our premium sports channel.

Q When will you go into pubs and clubs?

A As soon as we can resolve the issues we have with Sky that prevent us offering a competitive and economic package.

Q When will BSkyB get ITV/ITV2?

A That's a matter for ITV and its shareholders, but as I have said in the past, if we could resolve the outstanding issues between ONdigital and Sky, I would encourage ITV's shareholders to look positively at any proposals Sky made.

Q Will there be a second generation box this year?

A Probably not this year, but perhaps in 2001(?)

Q Will it have TIVO (a hard disk)?

A It will certainly integrate the ONdigital internet box. As for other aspects, you'll have to wait and see!

Q How do the proposed mergers affecting Carlton, United and Granada affect how you operate.

A Not in the least. We're carrying on with business as usual with our shareholders supporting us just as they always have.

Q Will the change of Chairmanship to Charles Allen make any difference? When is it due?

A Charles is already deeply involved in the Board, so I don't expect any radical changes. Michael is due to complete his term as Chairman in June.

Q How many/what proportion of aerials need adjustment? How much is all this costing?

A The proportion of customers needing aerial upgrades remains around 5 - 10%. It's all within budget.

Q When can I get a net box?

A In September, but you can put your name down for one now.

Q How much will it cost?

A We'll give details nearer the time - before we ask anyone to part with money

Q How can I sign up?

A ?

Q Will I be able to print from the net box?

A Yes, you will be able to purchase a very low cost printer from ujs

Q Will I still be able to use my ONmail system

A You'll get ONmail plus - an even better system

Q So will this system allow me to read attachments?

A No

Q But will I be able to access my ONmail account

AA Yes; through the ONdigital website

Q So will I have to disconnect my ONdigital box from the phone line to connect to the internet?

A You'll have a special phone connector which will allow you to have both connected to the phone socket (though you won't be able to connect to both at the same time)

Q If I'm out of coverage will I still be able to get the system?

A No

Q Will the system have Net Nanny, Cyber Patrol etc to protect my kids?

A It will have a system called PICS which allows parents to set the levels of language, violence and sex which the machine will accept. When the systenm is enabled, only those sites with PICS ratings at the appropriate levels will be able to be opened. Those without PICS will not be opened at all. When the box is delivered, protection will be set at the highest level.

Q So can you guarantee to protect our children from the flood of filth and pornography the internet will unleash on our living rooms?

A We will provide all the means necessary for parents to ensure that their children cannot reach such material. At the end of the day, it is up to the parents themselves to ensure that they use the tools we provide

Q Will it be more expensive than other systems?

A It will be competitively priced

Q Can I download?

A No

Q What browser does it use? Does this work with all sites?

A It uses a proprietary browser which works with virtually every site on the Net

Q Will it support chat/messaging systems like AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ etc?

A It will support chatrooms (not at the start?), but not ICQ, Instant Messenger etc.

Q Can I see video from the net?

A No

Q Can I download software?

A No

Q What use is a system that can't download and can't access lots of stuff on the Net? Isn't it a pig in a poke?

A We're certain that this system will be just what most ordinary people want and need to access the sorts of sites they want to visit on the Net.

Q Will my ONmail keyboard work the box?

A No, but the system will come with its own attractive keyboard

Q Can I use it without a set top box?

A Yes, but you can only get a netbox in association with an ONdigital box

Q Can I connect it to my Sky/cable?

A Why would you want to? You have to have an ONdigital box to get the net box

Q Doesn't netbox put you in direct competition with Granada's own net strategy ?

A No, our plans are completely complementary.

Q Is there enough capacity on the netbox to allow interactive learning ?


Q How long will it take for users to go through the click through process?

A As long as it takes for the box to connect to the site - a few seconds in most cases.

Q What will users see while they are waiting to be connected to a web site via click through?

A They will be able to watch their TV through picture in picture (???)

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