Telewest eyes 300 content agreements

Cable operator Telewest, which this week revealed it is in merger talks with Flextech, has promised to sign up 300 content providers for its interactive service in the next three years.

It is also considering how to brand its interactive business as it attempts to become the cable equivalent of Open – the rival home shopping and banking service part-owned by BSkyB.

Telewest – the UK’s second-largest cable television group – was forced to announce it was in discussions with Flextech after its share price rose dramatically on Monday morning, on top of last week’s gains.

A deal with Flextech – which operates channels such as Bravo, Living and Trouble, as well as joint venture channels with the BBC, including UK Gold – would provide Telewest with content for its new range of digital services.

Chris Townsend, Telewest director of interactive services and a former director of Open, says: “We are looking to sign up 300 content providers over the next three years, including a whole range of retailers, financial institutions and those with a heavy focus on games and entertainment.

“We want people to use our interactive platform every day.”

So far, Telewest has announced 15 suppliers, including Abbey National, car rental company Hertz and Thomas Cook.

The cable operator aims to sign up 40 more in the first quarter of next year.

Telewest has struck a deal with Scoot, which will offer a comprehensive directory service, including a national and local cinema guide through Telewest’s cable TV systems.

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