Digital UK today announces that Arqiva, the provider of broadcast network infrastructure and transmission services, will stand down as a shareholder in the Company from March 2021.
For the remaining shareholders - the BBC, ITV and C4 - this is an opportunity for greater collaboration in how viewers find and enjoy the best of public service programming in the connected world, whilst remaining committed to working with the wider industry to ensure that Freeview remains a vibrant, competitive and open hybrid TV platform.
Arqiva has been involved in the development of Freeview since its launch over 18 years ago and has been a shareholder in Digital UK since 2005. The agreement means that Arqiva will withdraw from its Board involvement in Digital UK, which leads the day-to-day management of the DTT platform as well as the long-term strategy and development of the Freeview service. Arqiva will also be withdrawing as a shareholder in DTV Services Ltd., the marketing body for the Freeview platform.
While no longer a shareholder of Digital UK, Arqiva will maintain its important role in the Freeview platform, both as an independent national multiplex operator - carrying around half of the channels on the Freeview platform - and as the sole transmission provider for the Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) platform.
The company has played a significant role in the development of the Freeview service over the years including in the 2015 launch of Freeview Play, the platform’s connected TV service, for which Arqiva built and operates the original metadata management system. It also played a leading role in the programme of infrastructure work required to clear the 700 MHz spectrum band previously used for Freeview services, for use by new 5G mobile services.
Digital UK and its remaining shareholders will continue to work closely with Arqiva and all its partners in the same spirit of collaboration and partnership that has been the hallmark of the platform’s success, including with regard to its role as the operator of the EPG for Freeview.
This will ensure Freeview continues to give British viewers an aggregated collection of live and on-demand content available to everyone in the country, free at the point of use. The principle that everyone in the UK has the right to a great TV service for free, continues to drive development of the UK’s biggest TV platform, serving almost 18 million homes.
Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK said:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Arqiva for all their support for Freeview over the years. They have been an important and valued partner to Digital UK, and without them Freeview would not have been the British success story it is today. We look forward to continuing to work closely together in the future to ensure the platform remains just as compelling for British viewers in the future."
Shuja Khan, Chief Commercial Officer of Arqiva said:
“Arqiva has been a member of Digital UK since it was founded in 2005 and we are proud of the role we have played in making Freeview such a successful platform, serving the needs of around 18m TV households on a daily basis."
“Freeview’s delivery of free-to-air, universal and high-quality content must continue, with the emphasis on universal. While we have stepped down as shareholder, we believe in the platform’s future and will continue to deliver and invest in the infrastructure and related services required to provide a wide and growing range of services to our media customers."
“We remain confident that Digital UK will ensure continued support for all its partners and respect the interests of all multiplex operators and broadcasters. As such, we look forward to continuing to play an important role in the future success of the platform.”
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About Digital UK
Digital UK is the joint venture which leads the operations and strategy of the UK’s biggest TV platform. Working in partnership with many organisations across the industry to deliver a resilient, secure, universal, quality, innovative TV service.
The platform’s connected TV service, Freeview Play, brings together the best of the UK’s free content, live and on-demand from leading broadcasters, including public service broadcasters. It is available on the majority of smart TVs sold in the UK and features over 20,000 hours of on-demand content. In 2019, a mobile app for smartphones and tablets was launched, giving viewers access to the country’s most watched television programmes all in one place, on the go.
In a world of changing viewing behaviour and increasing online delivery, Freeview is the only major TV platform in the UK that is growing its user base. Offering viewers a compelling foundational TV service on to which OTT services can be added, the platform plays a critical role in delivering consumer choice and supporting the UK’s broadcasters by driving share and prominence.
For more information about Freeview and the work of Digital UK, please visit the website at: www.freeview.co.uk/corporate/about-us.
Arqiva is a leading UK communications infrastructure company, behind the scenes delivering millions of vital connections.
Every day our infrastructure and associated services enable millions of people, businesses and machines to connect wherever they are through TV, radio and machine-to-machine data services.
We are the only supplier of national terrestrial television and radio broadcasting services in the UK and our advanced networks support the critical passage of data and content from connected TVs and smart meters for water, gas and electricity.
Our customers include major UK and international broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, Sky Plc, Turner Broadcasting, the independent radio groups and major utility companies and networks.
For more information, news and insights from Arqiva, please visit the website at: www.arqiva.com.