The BBC today said it would have reservations about pushing forward its plans for digital terrestrial television if it lost a bid for ITV Digital’s former licences.
The Corporation has teamed up with BSkyB for a free-to-air digital television service funded by the licence fee and advertising.
Carlton and Granada, which owned ITV Digital, are part of a consortium also bidding for the three licences.
A decision is expected from the Independent Television Commission early next month.
But a BBC spokesman claimed today that its rivals’ plans for a combination of free and pay channels may not prove viable given the problems suffered by ITV Digital.
Failure could also hinder the proposed switch-over from analogue signals to digital, he added.
‘‘Carlton and Granada say that if they can get 30,000 people paying £10 (€16) a month it will be viable,’’ the spokesman said.
‘‘Our view is that if the next licence is awarded and it fails, (digital terrestrial television) DTT is finished.
‘‘We want people to see the benefits of DTT. The more licence payers that can see it the better.’’
The spokesman said that given their opposition to pay channels, it was ‘‘common sense’’ if they lost the bid that they would have reservations about marketing it, even though BBC channels would be available on the new service.
‘‘We’d have to think twice about sinking a lot of money into marketing a pay platform that we don’t think is viable in the long-term.’’
BBC director-general Greg Dyke is expected to touch on the issue when he gives a speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs in London on Monday.
Administrators were called in to ITV Digital in March after the company went bust, with 1,400 job losses.
Its pay-TV services, including football, were switched off in May. The Football League is now suing ITV Digital for £178m (€274m) in TV football rights money it claims it is owed.