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BBC and Arqiva finalise 1.8bn pound deal

The negotiations that we reported earlier this year between BBC and Arqiva to provide the BBC's Freeview nationwide and add DAB to 160 transmitters has concluded.

The negotiations that we reported earlier this year between BBC
published on UK Free TV

The negotiations that we reported earlier this year between BBC and Arqiva to provide the BBC's two Freeview multiplexes from all 1154 UK television transmitters and add DAB (digital audio broadcasting, aka digital radio) to another 160 transmitters has now been concluded. The BBC will pay Arqiva 1.8 billion in a contract signed today.

The deal will see the BBC's analogue television and 80 transmitter, low-power DTT (digital terrestrial television, or DVB-T, digital video broadcasting-terrestrial) network replaced by a new 1154 transmitter, high-power DTT network. This will happen region-by-region, as set out by the digital switchover plan.

The two BBC public-service multiplexes will, by 2012, be viewable by 98.5% of the population using a rooftop aerial. Arqiva will service the BBC DTT network until 2031.

As part of the deal, up to 160 new DAB transmitters will provide better coverage for BBC digital radio over the contract period, which last until 2023.

The BBC's Richard Waghorn said "We are delighted to take this next step in the process of Digital Switch Over. The delivery of high-power digital signals to the whole country is crucial if the BBC is to help deliver a fully digital UK."

For Arqiva, Steve Holebrook added "Digital Switch Over is a complex and challenging task and we are absolutely delighted to have been chosen by the BBC to deliver their future television broadcast network. We have a long history in broadcast transmission and we're proud that we'll be playing such a major role supporting the BBC in the future."

Arqiva has (first as IBA Engineering then privatized as NTL) a 50-year history in transmission and now provides five services.

Terrestrial: transmission for ITV, Channel 4, Five and the vast majority of UK independent radio stations, both analogue and digital. Satellite: permanent, occasional broadcast, IP, voice, data and digital media from London, Gerrards Cross, Winchester, Feltham and Bedford. Mobile: platform-neutral delivery to handheld devices with partners such as Microsoft, O2 and Nokia. Wireless: wireless telecoms services from 2400 towers, masts and managed sites. Public Safety: communications design, installation and maintenance for emergency services, government and commercial organisations.

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