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Real Digital eyes Sky Sports launch offer

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'Real Digital' on an LCD television

© Real Digital

Real Digital, a new digital satellite TV service, has confirmed plans to offer the main Sky Sports channels when it launches next year.

Licensed by media regulator Ofcom in March, Real Digital aims to offer 200 free-to-air digital TV channels, along with high definition and pay-TV services, such as movies, sport and documentaries.

The service, which will launch in the UK and Republic Of Ireland in January 2011, will feature a seven-day EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) and a secure encryption system using a Smartcard.

The company has also applied to offer Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 to its customers under Ofcom's Wholesale Must Offer model, which forces Sky to make the two channels available to other providers at reduced prices.

On Friday, Real Digital's application will be heard at the Competition Appeals Tribunal, which will decide whether the company should join BT Vision, Top Up TV and Virgin Media in offering the channels.

If successful, the firm would be granted the same rights of supply for Sky Sports 1 and 2, marking the first time that the two channels have been delivered over satellite, but not on Sky. Real Digital expects to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 at a low monthly price that will be the "best value on the market".

Real Digital was established by David Henry (managing director) and Fred Perkins (chief executive), who also founded the Information TV and Showcase TV businesses, which operate digital channels on Sky, Freesat and Freeview.

Pre-installed Sky or Freesat customers will be able to use their existing satellite dish to access Real Digital via a simple 'plug and play' package.

High definition Real Digital set top boxes will retail from £159 for a single-tuner model without hard drive, or £270 for a Real HD+ box with a hard drive and PVR functionality.

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