Freeview heads for 4 million homes

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The Independent Online

Freeview, the digital terrestrial television service, could be in 4 million households by the end of next year.

The free-to-air platform, backed by the BBC, BSkyB and Crown Castle, is already thought to be available in 2 million homes. Its sales are likely to accelerate in the crucial period before Christmas.

Last night the BBC launched one of its biggest promotional campaigns ever. Ilse Howling, the head of digital marketing communication at the BBC, told The Independent that it was "possible" that Freeview would be in 4 million homes - or nearly 1 in 6 UK households - at the end of 2004.

"The ability to get completely free digital TV has proved to be very appealing," she said.

Matthew Seaman, Freeview's managing director, said that for more than 90 per cent of Freeview households it was the only multi-channel service in the home - showing the set-top box was going in the "front room", rather than being used for second television sets elsewhere in the house.

Mr Seaman also said Freeview was appealing to a different demographic compared with BSkyB - 40 per cent of Freeview customers are over 55, while just 16 per cent of BSkyB subscribes are in that age bracket.