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BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 launching new free smart TV service

The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have announced the launch of a new TV service that will be free to watch.

The service will allow viewers to browse and watch live TV channels together with on-demand content streamed straight to their smart TV via the internet.

Freely is due to launch next year and will be built into smart TVs, giving viewers access to both live schedules from public service broadcasters (PSBs) – such as the BBC – as well as other free-to-air channels.

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The service will be run by Everyone TV – previously named Digital UK – which is the platform operator of Freeview and its satellite twin Freesat.

Dame Carolyn McCall, ITV chief executive, said: “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.”

From 2024, TV fans will be able to browse channels through a programme guide and use new functions to find shows directly from live TV.

Director-general of the BBC Tim Davie added that the collaboration will help views to be able to access BBC content and “in a digital age”, ensuring “value for all audiences and that no one is left behind”.

Under the draft Media Bill, PSB services are set to be updated for the digital world.

Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said: “Streaming TV is increasingly the new normal for audiences, particularly young viewers, so it has never been more important for trusted PSB content to be readily available to everyone, for free.

“We look forward to working closely with our PSB partners so that when the Media Bill’s prominence provisions become law, the technology to make Britain’s favourite TV shows easy to find will already be in place.”

Everyone TV is jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. The company’s chief executive, Jonathan Thompson, added: “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.”

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