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The UK has had its TV services changed forever by the early introduction of a 30 channel digital terrestrial service called Freeview, which has driven over eight million customers in two and a half years, and now that service will come out with a Digital Video Recorder specification using the Freeview Playback brand.

The broadcasting companies behind Freeview will put together a promotional effort around the Playback brand.

Freeview is a huge success because it is free to air and consumers only have to spend around $50 in a one off payment to get the set top that converts a digital signal to one that can go into a conventional TV set.

The Freeview Playback initiative aims to provide an industry standard label for Freeview digital recorders to reduce consumer confusion. So far just a handful of DVRs have been sold in the UK, most of them attached to the BSkyB pay TV service SkyPlus. Almost none have been sold to work with Freeview, hence the need for the Freeview consortium to be behind this push.

Already BT is preparing an assault on Freeview offering its BT Vision hybrid this autumn, which merges the Freeview broadcasts access to VoD services which come over a broadband line to the same set top.

BT is widely expected to make one of its options a service with a DVR, and it has often made the point that a full IPTV service is not the right service to offer in the UK, where uptake of Freeview so early has created a free service almost as good as pay TV.

Freeview is the main reason that IPTV services such as HomeChoice have not had the takeup that is found in the rest of Europe, especially in Spain, France and Italy.

Copyright © 2006, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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