Keep up-to-date with the latest news on Twitter @a516digital and via

The Freeview Years: 2003

On the 30th October 2012, Freeview will have been on air for ten years. Take a few moments to revisit highlights from Freeview's first ten years on air:

Highlights from 2003

On the 9th February, the BBC replaced BBC Choice with BBC Three on channel 7, a channel created for 16-34 year olds.

BBC Three actually ended up launching a year after BBC Four launched, following regulatory hurdles relating to the public service content of the channel, with concerns that it would be too commercial and threaten ITV2 and E4. The channel was headed by Stuart Murphy, who previously ran BBC Choice, and before that UK Play.

Back in January 2003, two commercial channels went on air: the 15th January saw the launch of UK Bright Ideas, a new lifestyle channel from UKTV on channel 19 and ftn - the Flextech Television Network on channel 20. Flextech was at the time under the ownership of cable company Telewest (which later merged with ntl with the joint company becoming Virgin Media in subsequent years).

UK Bright Ideas (later UKTV Bright Ideas) aired from 06:00-18:00 and ftn from 18:00-06:00, sharing the same capacity on Multiplex D.

F tn was supposed to bring free to air highlights from other Flextech channels, such as Bravo, Trouble and Living. For many years, the output was disappointing, although it did show NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno and eventually showed classic gameshows from Challenge. That only came after several years where the first two hours of broadcasting were taken up by teleshopping.

December 2003 saw launch on Freeview channel 24, using capacity rented from Channel 4. The channel would the following year switch multiplexes, before losing its slot in 2009 - only to return again further down the EPG a few months later...

< 2002 | 2004 >
Share on Google Plus


  1. It's worth noting that f tn was responsible for bringing Kath & Kim to UK viewers, long before it was picked up by the BBC. F tn of course later became Virgin1 (with a much better line-up) and then Channel One for a few months after Sky bought Flextech and proceeded to close it down.

  2. And there will be more on Virgin 1 from later this week, when we revisit The Freeview Years: 2007

  3. Can remember ftn and the teleshopping but that happened for more than just one year. Never had seen BBC Choice.

    Got Freeview the first time sometime during 2004!

    Boxes in comparison to today was expensive.

    When TopUp TV came later like many on Freeview resented them. The parents almost fooled into considering TopUp TV was a good deal but got DVDs and VHSs of the BBC Comedies they wanted to see in the end. The decision was cemented when it came when they was to part time and pick and choose when to show channels (which they still do on more cramped spectrum)

    TopUp TV never lowered advertised prices! More £ for less I remember!