The BBC has won the three vacant digital terrestrial television licences left after the collapse of troubled broadcaster ITV Digital, the Independent Television Commission announced today.
The Corporation’s bid with satellite broadcaster BSkyB and transmitter company Crown Castle beat a link-up of ITV and Channel 4 to win the licences.
Regulators had to choose from six bids after ITV Digital went into administration earlier this year.
The award is key to driving the uptake of digital broadcasting to meet the British government's target of switching over completely from traditional analogue signals before 2010.
Chaos caused by the collapse of ITV Digital left plans for increasing the saturation of digital in disarray, but the ITC began a fast-track process to find new companies to step in.
A study commissioned by the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport this week showed that more than 40% of households now have digital, although figures were compiled before ITV Digital’s demise.
BBC director general Greg Dyke has forecast that the BBC-BSkyB proposal will attract another five million homes in five to six years.
As well as satellite and terrestrial digital services, around three million people receive signals via cable.
The successful package is based on viewers paying for a set-top box to decode the signals received through a traditional aerial.
It would then be free to view and offer some 24 channels, including five news channels and three from BSkyB.