'Freeview' is the survival strategy for free-to-view TV in the digital age in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. It is mix of marketing, services and technology, and of defensive and offensive elements. The mix is different in different places: In the UK, where the concept was launched in 2002, digital terrestrial television (DTT) became Freeview, now the most popular form of digital TV. Freeview represented a fresh strategy to relaunch DTT after the failure of the first model. In New Zealand, where DTT started in 2008, DTT is Freeview, but Freeview was a satellite service first, appealing mainly to those with poor analogue reception. The concept was imported from the UK as the proven way to make DTT work, and deployed from the outset by broadcasters with government backing. In Australia, as this article was finalized in August 2009, Freeview is still mainly a marketing campaign rather than a TV service. Broadcasters have not deployed it enthusiastically to launch the medium, but reluctantly, many years on, as part of the government-mandated push to digital switchover. This article explores the origins and development of these three Freeviews. It provides an unusual case study of a related, though different, set of products marketed under the same name in different countries. It also speculates about their future as television morphs into new shapes, especially encouraged by the growth of high definition, hard-drive-recording and broadband-connected receivers. Identifying both similarities and differences across the three Freeviews, the authors conclude that although 'Freeview' is helping to make it possible to switch off analogue services and free up spectrum for other purposes in all three countries, the national differences defy reduction to a single definition. Freeview, like television itself, is different in these different places and is changing over time.
International Journal of Digital Television, Vol. 1, no. 1 (Nov 2009), pp. 51-68
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