The UK's biggest commercial broadcaster ITV has acquired channel operator SDN, which is licensed to transmit signals for digital channels on the Freeview platform.

The £134 million ($255m; €197m) purchase from United Business Media and Wales's S4C Digital Media will give ITV control of the digital multiplex which broadcasts ten digital channels including Discovery, Cartoon Network, Disney and QVC.

Freeview, the free-to-air service currently available in more than five million UK homes, is jointly operated by the state-funded BBC, Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB and Crown Castle Communications of the USA.

ITV's expansion of its digital horizons will give it a new source of revenue and additional broadcast capacity from 2007, as technological advances may see new channels added to the multiplex. It currently has five channels on Freeview.

Says a spokesman: "We are ensuring our future on the free-to-air platform. It's not a move back into pay TV."

Three years ago the company's ITV Digital pay-TV business closed ignominiously with losses of £1 billion. Since then it has abandoned the pay-TV route and launched a family of free-to-air digital spin-offs from its main terrestrial network ITV1.

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