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Connected Freeview service plans unveiled by Freeview and Digital UK

Freeview and Digital UK have today announced plans to develop a new Freeview-branded connected TV service which is set to combine "the best of broadcast and on-demand TV available free for everyone."

The two companies’ shareholders, which include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva have backed a five-year plan to support the development and marketing of a connected TV proposition.

The announcement comes on the back of recent reports that show that the majority of viewers with YouView - the connected TV service that most of the Freeview shareholders are also involved with - are tied into contracts with either BT or TalkTalk and among concerns from some in the industry that BT and TalkTalk's dominance is marginalising free-to-air services.

Freeview is the company responsible for marketing digital terrestrial television in the UK. Digital UK manages the digital terrestrial TV platform, including the channel listings and technical support for viewers. Both operate from the same building in London.

According to Freeview, "the new offer will give viewers easy access to both broadcast and on-demand TV, including a range of popular catch-up players."

Details on launch timing and a brand name for the new service are to be confirmed.

Ilse Howling, previously Managing Director of Freeview, has been appointed to the role of Managing Director, Connected TV at Digital UK and will lead a new dedicated team to develop the product specification for the new service working in close co-operation with manufacturers and industry bodies and based on open standards.

Freeview’s former Marketing Communications Director, Guy North, has taken over the role as Managing Director of Freeview and will lead the team responsible for TV advertising and marketing campaigns for the Freeview brand and product portfolio.

The aim will be for manufacturers to launch a new range of connected Freeview HD televisions and boxes which consumers will be able to buy in store. People will be able to watch the service via their TV aerial and current broadband provider without being tied to a contract.

Ilse Howling, Managing Director, Connected TV at Digital UK said: “I’m delighted to be joining Digital UK to lead development of the new connected service. The company is well placed to develop the next generation specification and work with the supply chain to support a new, mass market service to make connected TV available free, for everyone.”

Guy North, Managing Director, Freeview said: “Freeview is at the heart of the nation’s viewing and I’m proud to be leading the company into the next chapter of its history. People know and love the Freeview brand and will trust us to help them enjoy watching catch-up and on-demand TV in the future, alongside the high quality channels that Freeview already offers.”

Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said: “Digital terrestrial television is a great success story of British broadcasting and plays a vital role in the overall health of our TV sector. This announcement marks a critical step in the next stage of the platform’s development, ensuring that it will remain as relevant, important and valued by viewers in the future as it is today.”

In a joint statement, the shareholders of Freeview and Digital UK said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Freeview platform to develop and market a Freeview branded connected TV service which will bring catch-up television to a mass market and give viewers even more choice in how they access TV programmes.”

See also:
Analysis: A new connected Freeview service 

Other News:
Closed Ultra HD tests to take place during World Cup on digital terrestrial TV


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