Telewest placates City with 9m promotion

Cable operator Telewest is launching a promotional offer worth 9.24m to boost subscriptions following concern in the City about the industry’s under-performance.

Under the “cutting edge” initiative, packs will be sent to 840,000 UK households explaining how cable can cut the cost of phone bills.

In addition, there is a promise of four hours’ free local phone calls for those switching to Telewest services, a reduction of up to 11 per household. The offer will be supported by a national poster campaign.

Telewest, a joint venture between TeleWest Communications Inc (TCI) and US West, is the UK’s largest cable services provider.

Rival operators Nynex and Bell Cablemedia have also pledged increased investment in marketing. The Cable Communications Association finalises its plans for a generic cable marketing campaign, scheduled to launch in March.

Interest in the deals BSkyB holds with local cable operators and sports bodies is intensifying in the run-up to Friday’s deadline for submissions to the Office of Fair Trading’s review of Sky’s programme supply activities.

The OFT launched its review last month in response to complaints by a number of cable operators (who buy BSkyB at wholesale prices) worried about Sky’s programme supply deals and its control of conditional access technology for scrambling and unscrambling the signals.

Last week, it emerged that the OFT is widening its review to cover Sky’s contracts to screen top sporting events. It has also emerged that a number of publicans have complained to the OFT about Sky’s pricing policies. The OFT’s review is expected to take three months.

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