Arqiva steps down as shareholder in Freeview

Broadcast network infrastructure provider Arqiva is withdrawing from Freeview operator Digital UK.

Announced in an update to shareholder, Arqiva, which has been involved with Freeview since its launch in 2005, will pull out of the company from March 2021. The news follows reports that Arqiva had been reluctant to further invest in HbbTV-based hybrid platform Freeview Plus. The company will also withdraw as a shareholder in Freeview’s marketing body DTV Services.

Arqiva’s withdrawal will see UK pubcasters ITV, C4 and the BBC as the remaining shareholders, with the statement saying that this is “an opportunity for greater collaboration in how viewers find and enjoy the best of public service programming in the connected world, whilst remaining committed to working with the wider industry to ensure that Freeview remains a vibrant, competitive and open hybrid TV platform.”

Despite this announcement, Digital UK said that Arqiva will retain an “important role” as a technical provider for Freeview and that it will remain its sole transmission provider for the DTT platform.

Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Arqiva for all their support for Freeview over the years. They have been an important and valued partner to Digital UK, and without them Freeview would not have been the British success story it is today. We look forward to continuing to work closely together in the future to ensure the platform remains just as compelling for British viewers in the future.

Shuja Khan, chief commercial officer of Arqiva said: “Arqiva has been a member of Digital UK since it was founded in 2005 and we are proud of the role we have played in making Freeview such a successful platform, serving the needs of around 18 million TV households on a daily basis.

“Freeview’s delivery of free-to-air, universal and high-quality content must continue, with the emphasis on universal. While we have stepped down as shareholder, we believe in the platform’s future and will continue to deliver and invest in the infrastructure and related services required to provide a wide and growing range of services to our media customers.”

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