BSkyB recalls Townsend to sort out digital launch

Chris Townsend, commercial director for home shopping service British Interactive Broadcasting, has been brought back to BSkyB by chief executive Mark Booth to ensure Sky launches into digital on time.

Townsend was asked by Booth to come back to his old job as marketing director for digital services to help launch the broadcaster’s digital system by June 28.

One senior Sky insider involved with the launch says: “There is an awful lot of work to be done to make sure we launch on time and that it works.”

Booth recently told investors that the UK’s first commercial digital system would be operational by the end of June.

BIB will look for a new commercial director to replace Townsend.

Townsend joined BIB last June, which is a consortium of BT, BSkyB, Midland Bank and Matsushita Electric. The group has pledged to invest 265m into the technology over the next five years.

However, in the past few months progress has been held up by an investigation by the European Commission to see if BT’s involvement is an abuse of its dominant market position. The system was due to launch at the end of the year, but observers now say the launch is likely to be delayed until 1999.

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