The end of free ITV? 

2 June 2009

Ah, do you remember the days? Everyone was rushing off pay TV, determined to embrace the world of free to air television. It would be great! Advertising would pay for all the channels. Punters would be able to watch them! Everything would be perfect. Plus it would stop Sky dominating the universe! Top one!

Until a recession kicks in anyway.

And so one comes along. And one comes along when ITV is already in a very bad state financially. So the story comes along that ITV met BSkyB to discuss doing the exact opposite – moving ITVs 2 to 4 under subscription.

It’s a sign of the desperation of our leading free to air commercial broadcaster and one which could have huge repercussions for it. ITV2 after all is the most popular digital channel – helped by it being on Freeview. You only have to look at the decline that followed when Sky One and Sky News were removed from Virgin Media to see that such moves have a huge impact.

However, much as we all love free TV, there remains the broader question of what happens to free to air TV in a world where people can skip through adverts at a touch of the remote control on their PVR. And in the long run, maybe it’s a sign that the only way to make TV pay is for us to stump up more cash.

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Monday 20 May 2024