To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to lift the prohibition on BT operating in the cable entertainment market; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Ian Taylor
BT is not prevented from operating in the cable entertainment market. It is able to do so on the same basis as all other companies, by competing for franchises. BT can even use its existing network within the franchises it holds. It can also deliver on its existing network broadcast television nationally to businesses, and it is free to offer interactive, on-demand services nationally to both businesses and homes. This freedom includes such services as video on demand, with an appropriate licence from the ITC. The only prohibition is on BT using its network nationally to convey or provide broadcast television to homes, as this would give it an overwhelming advantage over cable and other operators that are still building their networks. The Government will review these limited restrictions in 1998 and 2001 for conveyance and provision, respectively, if the Director General of Telecommunications advises that competition continues to become sufficiently established to warrant it. Stability in this regard remains an important factor in underpinning the investment in alternative infrastructure of more than £12 billion which cable and other operators have scheduled for this decade.