Television

Freeview digital service to launch 30 free channe

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UNITED KINGDOM : Freeview, the new digital service supported by BBC and Sky will be launched at the end of this month with 30 free channels.

Three-quarters of the country will be able to receive the newly boosted signal from 30 October 2002, says a report in The Guardian. Half of all households will be able to get the service through existing rooftop aerials; a further 25 per cent will require modifications that could cost around 100; the remaining 25 per cent will not be able to receive it until the analogue television service is switched off, it adds.

BBC's Director of marketing, Andy Duncan believes that the service would be a "fresh start" for digital terrestrial television - multi-channel TV through an aerial, which was marred by collapse of the debt-ridden ITV Digital earlier this year. According to the report the technical problems that dogged ITV Digital have been addressed , number of channels reduced and the signal boosted.

The Freeview consortium - the BBC, Sky and the transmitter company Crown Castle, will launch a 5 million marketing campaign, to win over the cynics . The BBC is also using the launch of Freeview to mount its biggest on-screen promotion for its digital services, asserts the report.

The service which will carry all eight BBC's services, including BBC3 and BBC4, two children's channels and BBC News 24, would be easy to understand, says Duncan. BSkyB will provide Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Travel. There will be two music channels: one from the Emap media company, and another from MTV, confirms the report.

Negotiations are still under way to fill the remaining slot on the service: one possibility includes a deal with Turner Broadcasting to transmit CNN's news service at breakfast time, children's programmes from Boomerang during the day, and Turner Classic Movies in the evenings, says the report.

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