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06/06/2002

Leeds residents benefit from BSkyB digital scheme

Thousands of Leeds people living in council flats and sheltered schemes are to get the chance to view digital television in an initiative unveiled by Leeds City Council and British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB).
After a competitive tendering process, BSkyB has won a contract to make the choice of digital channels and interactive services available to council tenants and leaseholders in Leeds. These viewers are among the millions around the UK who do not get digital television because they receive their signal through a shared aerial.
BSkyB will replace outdated terrestrial aerials in blocks of flats across Leeds with modern systems that include both a satellite dish and a conventional aerial. Around 12,000 households will benefit from the upgrade project, which is due to commence this week. Because of the number of flats involved, the work is programmed to take place over three years.
Because a single satellite dish will serve every home in each block, tenants and leaseholders will not need to install their own dish to receive satellite services such as Sky digital and unauthorised dishes can be removed.
The new equipment, known as an Integrated Reception System (IRS), also provides access to analogue terrestrial television, digital terrestrial television, digital radio (DAB) and FM radio broadcasts. There is no obligation on tenants and leaseholders to subscribe to pay-TV services.
Tim Wright, Head of BSkyB's Sky Homes division, said: "The benefits of digital television should be open to all viewers, including the millions who are currently served by communal aerials. Sky is delighted to help Leeds City Council ensure that tenants and leaseholders can choose how they receive television in the digital age."
With around 40% of homes connected to digital television, the UK has the highest take-up rate of any European country. The government aims to complete the switchover from analogue to digital television between 2006 and 2010, but estimates that around 20% of households rely on communal aerial systems. Most of these will be unable to receive a comprehensive range of digital television services unless the existing systems are upgraded with modern technology such as IRS.
Other councils which have opted to install IRS include Aberdeen, Enfield, Manchester, Newham, Teignbridge and Walsall.
BSkyB, www.sky.com
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