New channel slot becomes available on Freeview

Ofcom has given the BBC and transmission company Arqiva approval to auction off capacity that would allow a new channel to be broadcast on the Freeview free-to-air platform.

Digital player: the Arqiva control centre
Digital player: the Arqiva control centre

The BBC and Arqiva wrote to Ofcom on 21 September to jointly offer spare capacity, which has become available on the BBC Multiplex B and Arqiva capacity on Multiplexes C and D as a result of the digital switchover.

This summer, BT Vision and Top Up TV were able to launch Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 on the Freeview platform, using capacity that Ofcom allowed Arqiva and the BBC to auction earlier this year.

In separate letters to the BBC and Arqiva Ofcom, competition policy director Yih-Choung said the regulator recognised the "consumer benefits" of matching the two sets of spare spectrum.

Digital TV switchover is happening region by region until 2012. When it occurs, capacity becomes available on the multiplex the BBC uses to broadcast high-definition TV and on Arqiva’s C and D multiplexes.

Ofcom’s consent is dependent on approval of the co-operation agreement between the BBC and Arqiva, and on the winner of the auction obtaining the necessary regulatory consents from Ofcom for the regulator to release the spectrum.

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