France Telecom plans TV service in UK

France Telecom will launch a new Orange TV service, showing premium films and series, in the UK this year, a Reuters report said.

CEO Didier Lombard said that the Orange service would be available in the UK 'by the end of the year.'

France Telecom announced multi-year contracts with Warner Bros Pictures, HBO, International Television and French film production house Gaumont to broadcast their films and TV series, the report added.

The move is a key plank of the telecoms operator's strategy to expand beyond telephone and broadband services to become a distributor of media content via the Internet, satellite broadcasting and mobile networks, the report said.

Lombard also said that France Telecom had signed an agreement with Eutelsat to broadcast content to customers who could not get the operator's triple-play service (Internet broadband, telephone and TV) via ADSL.

France Telecom's new Orange cinema series will be launched in France in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Lombard told a conference that the telecoms operator did not see itself as a direct rival to French pay-TV broadcaster Canal Plus, part of the Vivendi media group,