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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Go-ahead for pay-TV on Freeview
Television remote controls
More paid-for channels can now appear on Freeview
Some Freeview channels may become paid-for services following a change of policy by broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

Until now, a certain amount of space on the digital terrestrial platform has been guaranteed for free-to-air TV.

Now this rule has been relaxed, offering broadcasters the opportunity to launch new paid-for channels, or to begin charging for existing networks.

However public service channels run by BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five will remain free.

More than 10.5 million set-top boxes and integrated television sets are capable of receiving the Freeview transmissions.

Multiplex rules changed

The platform uses six "multiplexes", or clusters of channels. Three of them are already allowed to offer pay-TV services, such as Top Up TV, but the subscription-based networks had been banned from the other three until now.

Ofcom said it believed that the current restrictions on pay-TV channels were "no longer a matter requiring regulatory intervention".

It added that "finding the right balance between pay and free-to-air services on the digital terrestrial platform can be better left to the market".

Approximately 70 per cent of UK households receive digital TV, with most new viewers opting for Freeview.

Analogue signals will be switched off completely by 2012 as consumers switch to Freeview, satellite and cable services.


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