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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January 2005, 10:38 GMT
Five million homes have Freeview
Couple with remote control
Almost 14 million homes now have some form of digital TV
Records sales of Freeview digital TV boxes over Christmas mean five million UK homes now have the service, the BBC has said.

It said up to 1.5 million boxes had been sold in the lead-up to Christmas, with 190,000 sold in each of the two weeks before the holidays.

The boxes enable viewers to pick up a range of digital TV and radio services without paying a subscription.

Before Christmas 2003, 140,000 sets were sold each week.

Media watchdog Ofcom said 3.9 million UK homes had Freeview in September 2004.

This figure compared with Sky's 7.1 million subscribers and 2.5 million subscribers to digital TV service from cable providers such as NTL and Telewest.

'No slowing down'

Around a quarter of the Freeview sales in the last three months of the year were thought to be from households that already had access to digital TV.

"Free digital television has a huge appeal and shows no sign of slowing down," said Ilse Howling, the BBC's head of digital marketing and communications. Freeview is a joint venture between the BBC, BSkyB and US transmission firm Crown Castle.

The BBC released Freeview figures ahead of an Ofcom report into whether a switch to digital-only TV is attainable by 2012, the government's planned date for an end to analogue transmissions.

Sky has adopted a bold approach to try and poach viewers from Freeview. It will broadcast an episode of the fourth series of hit US drama series 24 on Sky Travel, available through Freeview, to tempt Freeview customers to subscribe.

It will be shown on 30 January, at the same time it is aired on Sky One.

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