Sky solicits bids for betting service

Sky Television is considering bids from four companies - including a New Zealand firm - to provide an interactive betting service for its digital TV network.

Sky Television is considering bids from four companies - including a New Zealand firm - to provide an interactive betting service for its digital TV network.

The companies will only be providing the software to enable the service, says Sky CEO John Fellett, with the actual handling of wagers to be "legally worked through the TAB."

Fellett says Sky is looking at each company and its "record of on-time delivery" before making a decision. He admits that repeated delays in rolling out interactive services, which were originally due to launch last September, have been "frustrating".

Sky's chief financial officer Paul Smart told the Wall Street Journal this week that the company was set to launch its first interactive services based on the OpenTV platform late next month.

Fellett says OpenTV engineers brought to New Zealand are "continuing to work through all the bugs of having four different types of decoders in the field and getting the OpenTV applications to talk to our conditional access system, but it looks good" for a launch.

The first application will be an interactive TV guide purchased from Open itself, followed by a weather guide developed by the Wellington firm Oktobor. E-mail, games and the betting service will follow.

The games are being sourced from LudiTV, a division of the French company Visiware.

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