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A merger of Channel 4 and Five could be vital to the take-up of high-speed broadband in the UK, according to the BBC director-general.

Mark Thompson believes the British public needs stimulation in order to swell its demand for next-generation services.

This, he says, can be provided with the promotion of digital platforms and IPTV content that viewers watch online - a development made more affordable by the strengthening of the two terrestrial broadcasters through a merger.

Mr Thompson wrote in the Financial Times that "inspiring content, delivered in services that are free at the point of use, can stimulate demand for universal high-speed broadband".

A £1.5 billion investment by BT will be a giant step towards UK-wide next-generation coverage, with ten million homes hoped to be connected by the year 2012 and speeds of up to 100Mb a possibility.

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