Telewest to buy stake in BSkyB competitor Media Logic

Cable operator Telewest is planning to buy a stake in interactive TV shopping provider Media Logic, a rival to BSkyB’s Open platform.

An interactive system called iSee, which allows shoppers to talk to personal sales assistants and make purchases through their TV sets, was unveiled by Media Logic last week.

Media Logic – backed by investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson – has spent three years developing iSee and is thought to be ploughing £20m into the Telewest pilot scheme, which will run across 200,000 Telewest homes next autumn.

Referring to Telewest taking a stake, Media Logic managing director Simon Hunt says: “I wouldn’t rule it out.”

He says retailers may also look at buying into the system.

The company is to announce partnerships with retailers, holiday and financial services companies to sell their products through iSee and plans to generate £7.5bn worth of sales through interactive TV over the next five years.

Observers believe Telewest sees interactive home shopping as a new revenue stream to help recoup the heavy costs of laying cable across the UK. The company has announced losses of £356.7m for the nine months to September on turnover of £576.3m.

Media Logic, which is owned by a group of UK IT companies under the name Nisaba, says it is considering introducing iSee to overseas markets – where cable technology is more advanced – as well as across the UK. The service is likely to appear on other formats such as ADSN, which offers television through telephone lines.

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