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Read this: Arqiva signals it is not up for the fight to take on Netflix

Summary: The television mast monopoly Arqiva has frustrated attempts by broadcasters to fight back against Netflix and Disney+ in a stand-off over money. Arqiva has refused to help fund a new streaming service because it will not rely on traditional broadcasting infrastructure, according to industry sources. Freeview, the main terrestiral broadcasting platform, is a joint venture managed by Digital UK that counts the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Arqiva among its owners. It is in talks for a fresh funding round to develop its Freeview Play service, which comes installed on most smart TVs and aggregates catch-up and on-demand programming. Parts of the industry hope Freeview Play will give British broadcasters a chance to stake their claim for the top positions on streaming guides and channel menus amid a mounting threat from Netflix and Amazon. However, Arqiva is understood to be reluctant to stump up fresh cash despite working closely with Freeview in the past. Arqiva manages a vast network of more than 1,000 transmitters that deliver digital television to millions of homes, including the 70 channels on Freeview’s traditional TV service. The company has been expanding into streaming technology, and helped create the first version of Freeview Play, but masts remain a core part of the business. Paul Donovan, Arqiva chief executive, has played down the threat to traditional TV by the myriad of global streaming services. “I personally believe the terrestrial TV platform is going to be around until mid 2030,” he said in August. “Given the viewership of linear TV and its demographic profile, and the lack of broadband infrastructure, I think that the demise of terrestrial TV is overstated.” Arqiva’s decision comes after The Sunday Telegraph reported last month that Channel 5 may pass up the chance to become an investor in Freeview because it could not justify the cost during the pandemic. The BBC and ITV are urging the Government to update laws to ensure public service broadcasters get the same prime spot on streaming menus as they do on electronic channel guides. Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s chief executive, said last week that she was “obsessed” with ensuring broadcasters had “adequate prominence” and urged ministers to get on with bringing in new laws. Arqiva and Freeview declined to comment. www.telegraph.co.uk

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Arqiva signals it is not up for the figh…



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