ITV, BBC, Channel 4 and 5 join forces for new smart TV platform

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The BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 have teamed up to launch a new smart TV platform.

Named Freely, the service will allow viewers to watch live TV content from the four channels alongside catch-up programmes in one place, streamed via the internet. The service will be built into later generations of smart TVs.

Viewers will be able to access TV shows through a programme guide, allowing them to search for live TV channels and on-demand content.

"We are delighted to be deepening our collaboration in helping viewers access our content, ensuring that, in a digital age, we deliver value for all audiences and that no one is left behind," the BBC's director general Tim Davie said in a statement.

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"Ensuring the universality of public-service television is sustained into the future is of paramount importance to the UK and all its public service broadcasters."

The new platform, which is owned by the four public service broadcasters (PSB) and run by Everyone TV – which also operates Freeview and Freesat – will also later expand to other free-to-air channels.

"As more and more UK households use internet-connected TVs, it's critical that the public service broadcaster channels remain available and easy for them to find," ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall said of the move.

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The announcement coincides with the draft Media Bill, which aims to make PSB channels more accessible in the digital world.

"Streaming TV is increasingly the new normal for audiences, particularly young viewers, so it has never been more important for trusted PSB content to be readily available to everyone, for free," Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, added.

"We look forward to working closely with our PSB partners so that when the Media Bill’s prominence provisions become law, the technology to make Britain’s favourite TV shows easy to find will already be in place."

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