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UK pubcasters team up to offer free live TV over internet via Freely service

The UK’s terrestrial broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – are teaming up to launch a free service that will deliver live TV over broadband internet.

Jonathan Thompson

Set to launch in 2024, the service, called Freely, will be built into the next generation of smart TVs and feature a line-up of public service broadcaster (PSB) content and other free-to-air channels.

For the first time, British viewers will be able to browse and watch live channels together with on-demand content streamed straight to their smart TVs, all for free.

Freely is being developed by Everyone TV, the organisation formerly known as Digital UK, which runs free TV in the UK and is jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Everyone TV, said: “This new development is a reflection of the fact a growing number of UK viewers are watching content online but still want easy access to the shared experience of live TV.

Tim Davie

“Our aim is to ensure that all viewers have access to a free, aggregated live TV experience that champions British content and is delivered in a way that suits audience needs and preferences. Every one of us should be able to share in the best of British ideas and creativity on TV.”

Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, said: “Ensuring the universality of public service television is sustained into the future is of paramount importance to the UK and all its public service broadcasters.”

Dame Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, added: “As more and more UK households use internet-connected TVs, it’s critical that the public service broadcaster channels remain available and easy for them to find.

“This new collaboration enables the UK public to continue to get all of their favourite British TV channels, for free – just as Freeview did at the advent of digital TV. Alongside the important reforms set out in the draft Media Bill, it will help PSBs to continue to thrive for years to come.”

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