Bland, Yentob and Davies urge government to reach rapid decision on launch of new digital services as DCMS confirms verdict is 'not imminent'
The BBC today renewed calls for the government to make a speedy decision on whether or not it will get the go ahead for the launch of its planned new digital TV and radio services after the department of culture media and sport confirmed the decision was 'not imminent', writes Dominic Timms.

Speaking at the launch of the BBC's annual report today outgoing BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland said the corporation was 'very disappointed not to have started the services', which include a new digital curriculum for schools, but was 'ready to press on immediately.'

The renewed calls suggest that BBC hopes for approval by September have slipped following the arrival of new culture secretary Tessa Jowell. A spokesman for the department of culture media and sport said it was working on an extra period of consultation 'following additional information from the BBC,' but stressed that a decision was 'not imminent.'

Adding to earlier comments by Greg Dyke, BBC vice-chairman Gavyn Davies said getting the new digital channels on air was one of the BBC's top priorities.

'We are now ready to launch new digital TV and radio services including a new UK wide digital curriculum for the nation's school kids? We have set aside the money, we have the spectrum? All we need now is the greenlight,' he told an invited audience at the BBC's White City headquarters.

Davies claimed that the new services, which include BBC 3 and BBC4 as well as two new children's channels and five digital radio offerings, would help the BBC attract a younger and more ethnically diverse audience as well as driving the take up of digital television generally.

BBC director of drama, children's and entertainment Alan Yentob claimed the BBC was at a digital crossroads. 'We are at a watershed?all keeping our fingers crossed for the government to give us the green light.'

Yentob added that the BBC was planning to invest£100 million in 'new ideas' for BBC 3, one of the proposed new channels, as well as doubling investment in children's programming 'across the board.'

In addition to developing a successor to hit children's shows Teletubbies and the Tweenies, Yentob said the BBC had developed a new Learning Through Play strategy which he hoped would be 'ready to go out at the beginning of next year.'

BBC director general Greg Dyke also said that the BBC was anxious to press on with the digital TV services, but admitted to being 'boxed out' by the current requirement for multiple set-top devices. He poured doubt on the government's timetable for switching off the analogue television signals when he said it would be 'at least a decade' before the majority of people had access to digital television.