British commercial broadcaster Channel 4 is shifting its digital E4 offering to a free-to-air platform.

The move to Freeview takes place next month and coincides with the latest series of 'reality' hit-show Big Brother. There are currently around five million (and still counting) UK homes with BBC-backed Freeview, available via a settop box for a one-off payment of around £50 ($95; €73).

The E4 channel, which is currently accessible only as part of a pay-TV package, is a launch vehicle for its terrestrial parent's biggest import shows such as The Sopranos, Desperate Housewives and teen favourite The OC.

Big Brother, must-see TV for the important 16-34 year-old audience segment, features high on E4 schedules with wall-to-wall coverage during its annual summer run.

Says Channel 4 ceo Andy Duncan: "Freeview is still growing fast and we're forecasting an uplift in ratings and advertising revenues, which we expect to exceed lost subscription revenues."

Data sourced from Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff