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Second Discovery Freeview channel in the works

Discovery is planning a second Freeview channel, making use of new carriage terms and conditions between the US broadcaster and pay TV platform operator Sky, signed as part of a last-minute deal between the two companies at the end of January 2017.

Discovery's David Zaslav confirmed to investors and journalists in an earnings conference call yesterday that the new agreement - signed after a bitter battle between the two media giants over carriage in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria - does give Discovery the option to launch another channel on Freeview in the UK as well as explore new services for the German TV market. Mr Zaslav indicated that plans for a second Freeview channel are well underway, with the new service planned for this year.

Currently, Discovery offers Quest on Freeview channel 37, which carries a selection of factual and sports programmes from across Discovery's channel portfolio. But the broadcaster also has a second slot on the platform, currently used for Quest+1, which could be converted to carry another channel. Alternatively, additional capacity could be purchased to allow the timeshift version of Quest to continue. Over in Germany, Discovery offers standard definition versions of Eurosport 1, DMAX and TLC as free-to-air channels.

Carriage agreements with pay TV operators often prevent broadcasters from launching free-to-air services, but most major broadcasters now offer at least one Freeview outlet showcasing some of their usually paywalled content. Examples include Blaze, the Freeview channel from A+E Networks UK, showing programmes from History, H2 and Crime+Investigation and Pick, Sky's Freeview channel that includes older homemade content previously shown on Sky 1.