Digital UK, the company which manages both the Freeview and Freesat TV platforms, has rebranded as Everyone TV. Freeview and Freesat, which serve 18 million homes between them, will retain their individual brands.
Owned by the UK’s Public Service Broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – the renamed company also has a revised mandate to “to lead the evolution of free, universal, high-quality television, in a way that protects and strengthens the social glue provided by Britain’s broadcasting heritage”.
Everyone TV will also work to “guide Britain into a new era where audiences can still watch their favourite PSB TV shows without charge whatever platform they choose.”
CEO Jonathan Thompson said: “Among our tasks in the years ahead is defusing a threat to universality that could catch the industry by surprise.
“From the Queen’s funeral to the victorious England women’s football team, shared moments of sorrow and joy, drama and poignancy, are currently brought into every British home simultaneously by our world-leading television industry.
“But that could be lost in a fragmented future world of TV viewing. We at Everyone TV will lead the evolution of free television services in the UK so that universality – in all senses of the word – remains a fundamental principle.”
In recent years some PSBs have failed to keep up with both viewer expectations and competing services, for example by being slow to upgrade their catch-up services to High Definition even as 4K became standard on subscription streaming services, and failing to offer features such as surround sound.
Despite streaming accounting for a growing share of all viewing, few PSB catch-up apps allow their shows to be added to the universal watchlists on all streaming devices and on Amazon’s Fire TV range, only Channel 5’s live channels currently appear in the device’s programme guide.
The industry will need to address such shortcomings, rather than rely on calls for greater regulatory intervention, if it’s to retain audiences in the face of ever increasing competition.