Freeview Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary
Freeview Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary
Broadcasting free-to-air digital television channels, Freeview recently celebrated its tenth birthday. Having been part of British Christmas for the past decade, digital TV forum Satellites.co.uk takes a walk down Freeview’s memory lane to discover a little more about its development.
The Freeview brand was officially launched on 30th October 2002 as a free alternative to paid for Satellite TV channels and Cable packages. With it came the announcement that the BBC and Crown Castle, now known as Arquiva, were taking over Digital Terrestrial Television licenses from the failed ITV digital pay platform. Freeview is terrestrial and can be picked up with an aerial and should not be confused with Freesat, which is received via a satellite dish. At the time of the takeover, Peter Abery, President and Managing Director, Crown Castle commented "Freeview offers something new for viewers who aren't attracted by pay television services but would like more quality TV channels.”
Teething Problems and Teenage Years:
From its launch in 2002, Freeview experienced exponential growth and in September 2009 underwent a significant upgrade in order to ensure proper reception of channel 5. The upgrade required 18 millions households to retune their receiving equipment but was not as successful as hoped. Due to loss of ITV 3 and ITV4 programs as result of the retune, customer complaints began to flood in and the Freeview website crashed from sheer volume of traffic.
Freeview nn the 2nd December 2009 completed a technical launch for Freeview HD. This followed with the release of new Freeview HD reception equipment, the Humax HD-FOX T2 on 13th February 2010. The commercial launch of Freeview HD took place in March 2010 backed by a £6 million advertising campaign. Aiming to give viewers the pleasure of enhanced television while watching the nations most popular shows, The Guardian commented that Freeview was taking high definition television to the “mass market”. By the end of 2010, approximately 77% of British population was able to receive the Freeview TV programme and in February 2011, the company announced total sale figures of 1,000,000 for Freeview HD set-top boxes. Coverage is expected to be 90% of the population now that digital switchover has been completed.
All Freeview devices now include the MHEG-5 technology, which supports the interactive electronic program guide, digital text as well as the “red button” TV services. Viewers wishing to watch HD channels, however, need a Freeview HD TV with T2 tuner or a Freeview HD box or recorder and an HD ready TV.
2006 was the year that brought ITV plc and channel 4 into the company with equal share holdings. Freeview now has a total of 5 equal shareholders comprising: BBC, ITV, Channel 4, BSkyB and Arquiva.
In line with the major pay TV services, Freeview now offers viewers a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) option, the possibility to record one channel while watching another and the ability to pause live TV, rewind or continue watching where they left off. No subscription applies but a Freeview+ recorder or Freeview+ HD recorder is required in order to do this.
Since its release, Freeview has been emulated in both Australia and New Zealand (in 2008 and 2007) respectively although it wasn’t until March 2009 that Australian TV viewers experienced the first Freeview channel. The emergence of the Freeview brand in New Zealand was the result of a joint venture between government owned Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand.
Want to know more about Freeview or confused about how it differs from Freesat? Visit the Satellite TV Forum for community support.
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