BT understood to be in talks with digital television operators to bundle phone and TV packages in bid to win back customers lured by cable
British Telecom is reported to be negotiating with digital television operators ONdigital and Sky to offer combined telephone and television packages, writes Ann-Marie Corvin.

The move is understood to be part of a strategy to fight increasing competition from cable operators. UK cable operator Telewest, for example, is currently offering customers an entry level package costing£9.60 for a telephone line and 11 digital TV channels, compared with£10 for a BT line on its own.

BT is thought to be negotiating special tariffs to ONdigital and Sky customers under a marketing arrangement between the two companies.

The offer is likely to build on a recently commissioned research report that shows its phone bills are up to 24 per cent cheaper overall than those of the cable companies and other operators- thanks to free call allowances in its BT Together and BT talk Together packages.

Extra research has now been produced with figures showing the cost remains cheaper when an ONdigital or Sky Subscription is added in and the company is expected to release these figures on 11 July.

However a BT spokesman dismissed the reports as specualtion. ' All reports yesterday on BT's tarrif agreements with digital television operators amount to nothing more than rumour and speculation. We have nothing to add at this stage,' he said.

BT has also confirmed that it is to shed 2,000 jobs across its retail division in an effort to save£240m this year. The move is part of a plan to save£850 over three to five years.