Crown to Conjure Yet More Slots on UK's Freeview?

14 April 2005

Crown Castle International, the US monopoly that controls the UK's entire terrestrial TV transmission network, has seemingly discovered a well that never runs dry.

Crown is a member of the triumvirate behind Britain's highly successful digital terrestrial TV platform, Freeview (other partners are the BBC and BSkyB). Launched in October 2002 with thirty free digital TV channels plus 20 digital radio stations, the platform was oversubscribed by wannabe broadcasters.

However, wherever there's a dollar there's a discovery and, presto, Crown unearthed a method of squeezing an additional channel from the existing spectrum.

In a sealed bid process, this was hotly competed for by several broadcasters, among them Five, Disney, Turner Broadcasting, Channel 4 and ITV - the last-named winning the auction [WAMN: 04-Apr-05].

But with all those unsuccessful bids burning holes in pockets, presto again from canny Crown! A second new slot has been wrung from its system and is expected to go to Channel 4 within the next week or so.

But contain your amazement! Crown has yet more tricks up its sleeve. The latest gossip around the media parish pump suggests the company has thaumaturgized a further pair of channels to put up for grabs this summer.

The taciturn wizard is zip-lipped on the subject of stretched spectrum, dismissing it as "a matter of speculation". Insiders say these "speculative" new channels are likely to change hands for a sum not unadjacent to £6 million ($11.31m; €8.78m) annually.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff