British telecoms and media regulator Ofcom announced Wednesday plans to deregulate current rules that prevent pay TV channels from broadcasting via digital terrestrial television (dTTV), popularly known as Freeview.

Three of the six dTTV multiplex licences, first allocated in 2002, require that all channels carried must be free-to-air. Since the original Freeview allocation, however, dTTV has developed rapidly and over six million households now receive a wide choice of programming, both on free-to-air and pay channels.

Digital television has also developed significantly on other platforms such as satellite, cable and broadband with nearly 18 million UK households now watching digital programmes.

Following a lengthy consultation process, Ofcom believes that the current restriction on pay TV channels is no longer a matter requiring regulatory intervention. It now believes that achieving the right balance between pay and free-to-air services on the dTTV platform is best left to the market.

The obligation on the public service broadcasting channels (BBC, ITV, C4, Five, S4C and Public Teletext) to remain free-to-air is unchanged.

To view the full Ofcom statement click here.

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