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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 15:04 GMT
Can Freeview succeed?
The BBC has today launched Freeview, the new digital terrestrial television service.

Backed by a consortium including BSkyB and transmitter company Crown Castle International, Freeview replaces ITV Digital, which collapsed due to financial problems.

Viewers will have up to 30 digital television services, plus interactivity and digital radio, through their rooftop aerial, accessed through a new set top box, an old ITV digital box or an integrated digital TV set.

Do you think you'll get Freeview? Can it succeed where ITV Digital failed? Do you have or will you ever have Digital TV?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Although the extra channels are nice to have around, it only means it takes an extra minute to flick through the channels before deciding that there's nothing on. Also, why have the ceefax/teletext services been stopped? Digital text doesn't have the range of information or (ironically) the speed the older system once did.
Simon Powell, UK

Why not sacrifice some news or music in favour of some movies or sport?

Albert Bogle, Northern Ireland
The quality of the DTT channels is very good and rivals Sky or cable. However, the loss of TCM to the package is a major setback. We now get BBC News, ITV News, and Sky News. And a lot of music channels. Why not sacrifice some news or music in favour of some movies or sport?
Albert Bogle, Northern Ireland

At last something to give sky some thing to worry about. If you look at Sky the only thing you can watch free is its news, or programs that want to sell something. Any other things cost you money. But I do think one of the channels should be left open for the use of the public like in the USA. Then Freeview would be the in thing.

The main TV channel I want is E4 and you can only get that on expensive sky/cable packages. What is the point of promoting this to my family if the channel I want isn't there? My little brother and sister would love the CBBC channel and the cartoons available and my father would like BBC4. News on tap appeals as my parents would not be controlled by the TV schedule so much. However myself and my 15 year old brother have the most input on new technology advice to our parents and frankly there is little if anything on for teenagers. So why should we bother? Its a shame because we would love just E4.
Ruth - 17, England

Freeview should and must succeed.

Simon, Hertfordshire
Don't believe the postcode checker - borrow a set-top box is you have to and you might be surprised. The postcode checker said I couldn't get OnDigital and says I still can't get Freeview but the signal strength meter on the digibox is now showing "good" and I have an excellent picture. I have no intention of paying for satellite, I don't want a dish and my kids watch hardly any TV anyway (thank goodness) so Freeview is perfect and I can't believe people like me are that rare. Freeview should and must succeed. Pity the teletext is so clunky compared with the analogue version.
Simon, Hertfordshire

It would be nice to have a choice of BBC radio stations and a movie channel!
Petula Matthews, South Wales

I spent 99 getting a digital box going on the hype of the programs coming up. Where are they. Very disappointed, wish I had saved my money.
Richard Pycroft, England

I doubt the success of Freeview. I mean, the choice of channels certainly isn't very exciting is it? Rather dull and boring to be honest. I'd much rather pay for Sky thank you very much!
Colin B, Nottingham, UK

I live in an area of Lancashire, served by a repeater transmitter. Because of this, even as a licence payer I simply cannot receive the so called 'free to view' channels. The BBC need to meet their commitments and address issues of coverage & infrastructure urgently.
Ian, UK

We now have a real choice

Rod Maxwell, Scotland
I think Freeview will succeed because, unlike ITV-Digital, it has its own niche rather than being a poor-man's Sky. We now have a real choice - Sky has a huge range of programming, cable has the added telecoms and Freeview is, well, "Free". My only gripe is that I am one of the few people who spent my hard earned cash on a digital TV and whilst I can receive the new channels, I still can't get the interactive services for the want of a software upgrade.
Rod Maxwell, Scotland

I take issue with the person who said, "This is the future". I live one mile outside the south of the M25 and, after inputting my postcode on Freeview's website, was told that my area is not covered by Freeview's signal. Pathetic! Looks like the government have a long way to go before they force us to go digital so they can sell off the analogue frequencies.
Simon, England

The late withdrawal of one or two channels, notably TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has watered down the channels on offer with Freeview to make it very marginal for adults, but not bad if you have children.
Gary, UK

This would certainly be useful for the spare TV

David H, London, England
A great idea, the target market is the people who do not want to pay for channels; this is the market Freeview are approaching. I myself do have cable though, but this would certainly be useful for the spare TV, with the choice of three 24 news channels, which is great for the kitchen!
David H, London, England

I've checked a range of postcodes for Bournemouth, and the whole town (including Poole) cannot receive Digital Terrestrial services. How many other fairly large towns/areas suffer from this problem?
Tim Forsyth, UK

I got an old ITV Digital box for about 50 a couple of months a go. This means I can now receive Channel 5 whereas I couldn't before, those other Champions League games on ITV2 and catch up with some of the recent series I've missed on BBC. The additions of the new channels are not terribly exciting, but for a fairly low one-off payment it certainly seems value for money to me.
Steve, London, UK

Freeview offers only part of the solution

Rose, Biggin Hill, UK
As ex-ITV Digital customers, Freeview offers only part of the solution. I don't have the option of cable, and can't have a dish fitted. The channel choice is OK as far as it goes, but if I didn't already have an old ITV Digital box I wouldn't be going out to buy one now on the strength of what is being offered by Freeview. I'd love to pay for a better choice, if only someone will provide the service!
Rose, Biggin Hill, UK

It's great news at last for the folks abandoned with ex-On Digital - but I cannot see that it's worth the 100 outlay on a new box. It must have pay to view to succeed.
Ken B, England

Time should have been spent ensuring that coverage of the country was better. I live in a well-populated part of the country but still can't get it.
Andrew McA, Northants UK

I bought a pace decoder a few months ago so I could watch widescreen content on my new TV. The quality of picture and sound is top notch although the interface isn't anywhere near as good as Sky's. My only gripe is that I've struggled to find out much information on the new 'launch' before today. It must have a higher profile and all the promised channels working now, not in 2003, it's that kind of thing that puts people off.
Jon Stallard, England

I feel that the new Freeview TV will fail

Joe Lawrence, England
I feel that the new Freeview TV will fail because everyone has bought Sky after the downfall of ITV digital.
Joe Lawrence, England

Freeview is ideal for me. My old ITV Digital box picks up an excellent signal; my kids enjoy CBeebies, no monthly fee, proper widescreen pictures on a widescreen TV. We don't have cable in our area, and this way I don't have to have a hideous satellite dish spoiling the look of my house. Sky TV does offer more channels, but apart from the sport ones, most of these channels broadcast BBC repeats or imported American trash.
Mark, England

As an existing Sky Digital customer who is finding it hard to justify the 30 per month for sport channels which I don't seem to find time to watch, and with a new DVD player under utilised, I am seriously considering trying out Freeview. I would make sure your box retailer agrees to a full refund if not entirely happy with the reception, which has to be as good as Sky digital. I'm surprised at the lack of digital radio channels from the BBC - no Radio 1,2,3 or 4?
Scott Cameron, Dunfermline, Scotland

When the licence was granted to the BBC/Crown Castle/Sky conglomerate, two channels, Boomerang and TCM were promised as part of the package. Mysteriously they have now disappeared, leaving a mixture of normal terrestrial channels and specialised others that hold very little new content. I can't see people queuing up to buy new boxes to get this stuff, there is nothing original there at all.
Darren Badrock, England

Not much planning seems to have gone into the Freeview launch

Paul, UK
Not much planning seems to have gone into the Freeview launch. None of the text or interactive content is available on a Pace STB I bought about a fortnight ago. You would think that Freeview and Pace could have worked together to ensure an update was available to coincide with the launch. Without a text service the new system offers less than the old, I'll be going back to analogue until they can get their act together.
Paul, UK

Being one of the first to have digital terrestrial many years ago we sent it back because of bad reception and frozen pictures etc. A few months ago we invested in a Pace Box to receive the service once again and have been totally happy with it. If people can forget the bad image of digital and look past the preconceptions I hope they will have hours of good, inexpensive TV ahead of them. It deserves another chance.
Gary Sanderson, England

The quality of the picture is as good as Sky digital

I have been using my old ITV digital box for the past few days and the major difference is the quality of the picture, it is as good as Sky digital. Shame it was so bad when ITV digital were broadcasting, which made it virtually un-watchable.

All of this depends on whether we can receive the service at all. We still can't even get Channel 5, so what hope for digital services?
Darren Stephens, Whitby, UK

This is the future. I think ITV were just a little too early, the irony being their collapse raised the profile of digital TV to the point that everyone is now aware of it.
Nigel, Norfolk, England

Please can we be given the option to include pay channels?

Jackie, UK
I am a former ITV Digital customer, and as much as I welcome the new Freeview service, please, please can we be given the option to include pay channels? I am unable to have a dish due to living in a flat and there is no cable in my area. As BSkyB are involved in this venture I wouldn't have thought it would be too difficult to arrange. We, as the consumers, need to be given a choice and now!
Jackie, UK

It looks like a very rushed token effort for all the ITV digital casualties, who have no doubt all gone over to Sky by now. You cannot add any pay channels, so why bother wasting 100? After the standard media flurry that will bring sales, I would say the lifecycle of this product will finish by Feb 03.
Simon Doderer, England

Sounds like a great idea, but I know that we are unable to receive it. The only choice we have is Sky, as cable is not available either. The only problem I have with Sky is the cost (and lack of customer service should you have a query - call centre moan!).
Sarah, UK

As I have never heard a whisper about this until today I doubt it very much. Something that costs this much to implement needs to have a large customer base and to get that you need to tell people about it.
Nik, UK

Being one of those millions who have little interest in spectator sports, who would prefer to buy a DVD than watch a movie on Pay to view TV, and who has little interest in pay to view as a concept, the new DTT is just right. The biggest bonus I have found has been the availability of Radio for me to listen to, as it is far more interesting than anything on watch TV.
Barry P, England

The selection of channels is not worth it

Sarah, UK
When my mum heard about it she thought it would be a good and cheap alternative to Sky. However, the selection of channels is not worth it. Most of them are already available (BBC1, 2 etc.) or children's programmes or music, which is not much interest to my Grandad who is in his 80's!
Sarah, UK

I doubt that Freeview will attract a lot of customers after the previously poor performance and eventual collapse of ITV digital. I suspect a large number of viewers decided to sign up to Sky instead.
Andrew H, England




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