Digital delay causes NTL licence fears

There is speculation this morning that the media giant NTL could lose its licence to provide cable television and other services following confirmation that it is not keeping to a timetable for the rollout of digital TV.

There is speculation this morning that the media giant NTL could lose its licence to provide cable television and other services following confirmation that it is not keeping to a timetable for the rollout of digital TV.

The US company has exclusive rights to bring digital channels via cable to Dublin, Waterford and Galway, but admits its plans are behind schedule.

Yesterday, NTL was infuriated by newspaper reports that it was abandoning plans to bring internet, phone and digital services to its customers.

However, the company did admit its digital TV plans have been delayed.

Under the terms of its licence, the company is due to provide new channels to 100,000 customers by the end of March.

Telecoms Regulator Etain Doyle is expected today to ask the cable operator directly if it will make the deadline or not.

Failure to reach the rollout targets could be taken as failure to meet the terms of the licence.

Ms Doyle has several options open to her - she can either revoke NTL's licence or remove its exclusivity, leaving the market open to other operators, such as Eircom and fellow cable TV giant Chorus.

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