Britain's New ITV3 National Channel Will Be Free-to-View

05 August 2004

New British national digital channel ITV3 will hit the nation's screens on 1 November as a free-to-view product featuring movies and classic drama series.

It will air via Freeview, the BBC's highly successful terrestrial digital platform, as well as cable and BSkyB's new free service FreeSat. The new channel is expect to rack up running costs in the region of £12 million ($21.89m; €18.17m) annually.

It had been expected that ITV3 would be launched as a pay-TV platform, along lines similar to Channel 4's E4 service. Had it done so, there would have been an immediate contribution of up to £10m a year in distribution fees from BSkyB -- a tempting prospect for ITV chief executive Charles Allen who is under intense pressure from institutional investors to gild the bottom-line molto allegro.

However, the pay-TV route had a major downside: it would almost certainly have meant allowing NewsCorp-controlled satellite monopoly BSkyB to take an equity stake in the channel, a move said to be anathema to Allen and other senior ITV honchos.

Some observers believe this would have created a chink in ITV's door through which the boot of Rupert Murdoch would immediately have been thrust.

The new channel will target upmarket viewers in the 35+ age group, thereby complementing its digital sibling ITV2 which feeds 16-34 year-olds a diet of soap storyline extensions, soccer and reruns of successful 'reality' formulae such as I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff