The government has extended the five national Digital Terrestrial Television multiplex licences, used to deliver Freeview channels, until 2034.
The extension guarantees households will continue to have access to dozens of channels subscription-free, including HD versions of BBC One, ITV HD, Channel 4 HD and Channel 5 HD.
Today’s decision follows a consultation on aligning the terms of the multiplexes which had been due for renewal on several different dates.
In their response to the consultation, most stakeholders backed the government’s proposal, although BT argued for a shorter extension and for a switch to internet-based delivery of channels. However, ministers rejected this stance, arguing that there was little chance of an alternative to DTT being deployed and widely adopted by 2034.
Media Minister John Whittingdale said: “Today we are guaranteeing the future of Freeview TV and a diverse range of much-loved news, entertainment and documentary channels well into the 2030s.
“Securing the future of Freeview means people can continue to enjoy its great content while we also protect a vital medium for our public service broadcasters so they can serve audiences in the years to come.”
The multiplex licences being renewed are:
- Multiplex 2 – expiring in 2022 and carrying the commercial PSB channels ITV/STV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as some of their portfolio channels (e.g. ITV 2, Film 4, E4 and More4)
- Multiplex A – expiring in 2022 and carrying only commercial services including some of the commercial PSBs portfolio channels (e.g. ITVBe and 5USA) and some other commercial services (such as QVC and Quest)
- Multiplex B – expiring in 2026 and carrying PSB High Definition services including BBC One HD; ITV HD, Channel 4 HD and Channel 5 HD
- Multiplexes C and D – expiring in 2026 and carrying a range of commercial channels including Dave, Sky Arts and news channels such as Sky News, Al Jazeera and GB News