As April Fools (thankfully) drifts away for another year I can stop scrutinising every press realise with the thoroughness of Columbo and get back to brass tacks. This did make me check twice though...
New from Virgin Media this week is 'Virgin Free TV' a FreeView-esque digital TV service targeting consumers living in non-cabled areas. It will use the digital terrestrial television platform (DTT) and couple it with a new set top box to provide over 40 free-to-air TV channels and in excess of 25 digital radio stations, plus an eight day on-screen TV guide and interactive content.
Virgin also promises an easy installation with plug n' play technology and customer service support both online and over the phone should you run into trouble. Additionally Virgin claims the box itself (which at 190 x 90mm is roughly the size of a VHS cassette – if you can remember those?) is an environmentally friendly/low cost (pick your favourite) unit which consumes just 1/15th of the energy of a standard 60W light bulb... get out of here!
As for prices, the box will be free to any Virgin Media non-cable customer who subscribes to the company's 8Mbps broadband offering and Talk Anytime phone bundle (which weighs in at £19.99pm). A one off connection charge of £40 is also in the small print. Additional boxes can be purchased to expand the TV service around the house.
Virgin hasn't yet revealed the whens and how muches of Free TV yet but it did say the service will be rolled out across the UK during 2008.
BSkyB, take that!