Digital UK
Digital UK.svg
Formation13 April 2005
TypeCompany limited by guarantee
PurposeSupports Freeview viewers and channels
Headquarters27 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JF
Region served
United Kingdom
Official language
English, Welsh
Key people
  • Caroline Thomson, Chairman
  • Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive
Parent organization
BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5

Digital UK is a British television communications company owned by the BBC (1922), ITV (1955), Channel 4 (1982) and Channel 5 (1997) which supports Freeview viewers and channels. It provides people with information about their options for receiving terrestrial TV and advice on reception and equipment. The company also handles day-to-day technical management of the Freeview Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), allocates channel numbers and manages the launch of new services and multiplexes onto the platform. Digital UK has been licensed by Ofcom as an EPG provider.

In 2015 Digital UK and Freeview developed Freeview Play, a connected TV service offering both live linear TV and on-demand content, including a range of popular catch-up players. The service is available on both TVs and set-top boxes and is now widely supported by more than 20 manufacturer brands.[1][2]

Digital UK continues to lead on development of the Freeview Play product specification which is based on open standards, working in close co-operation with manufacturers and industry bodies.

From 2008 to 2012, Digital UK led the implementation of digital TV switchover and recently oversaw the clearance of terrestrial TV services from the 800 MHz band of spectrum to prepare for the launch of 4G mobile broadband services.

Digital UK was formed on 13 April 2005 as SwitchCo,[3] adopting its present name five months later. It is based in Mortimer Street in Fitzrovia, London.

The company completed the first pilot digital switchover in Whitehaven, Cumbria in 2007, and the last switchover was completed in Northern Ireland on 24 October 2012.[4]

In July 2021 Digital UK acquired Freesat the free to air satellite television platform, from the BBC and ITV and formally merged into Digital UK.[5] [6]

In December 2021, Channel 5 joined the venture, marking it as "the first time that the venture has been wholly owned by all four PSBs".[7]


Switchover communication

Digital Switchover banner in Porthmadog, Wales, as seen in September 2009.
Digital Switchover banner in Porthmadog, Wales, as seen in September 2009.

Digital UK was responsible for explaining the switchover from analogue to digital television broadcasting to the public.

Digital UK also provided information to consumers through a website and a telephone helpline (0845 6 50 50 50).

Transmitter work

One of the main reasons for switchover was to allow almost every home to receive a digital signal through their normal aerial – digital terrestrial television, usually known in the UK as Freeview.

Before switchover began, around one quarter of the UK public could not receive Freeview, because the digital signal was broadcast at low power in order not to interfere with analogue television. By switching the analogue signal off, it became possible to increase Freeview coverage. When switchover was completed, 98.5% of UK homes were able to receive the service.

Extending Freeview involved re-engineering work at 1,150 transmitter sites across the country between 2008 and 2012. Digital UK was responsible for co-ordinating this work, which was carried out region by region.

Freeview is only one way to receive digital television: the others are digital satellite (through Sky, or free-to-air systems), cable (through Virgin Media or WightFibre) and over a telephone line (through TalkTalk TV in London).


Digital UK also worked with electrical manufacturers and retailers, who supplied the equipment necessary for all the UK's television households to watch digital.

The company promoted the 'digital tick' logo, a certification mark for the public that identifies TV equipment in stores that will work before, during and after digital switchover.

Switchover Help Scheme

Digital UK worked alongside the BBC-run Switchover Help Scheme, which helped older and disabled people convert one of their sets to digital.

Previous shareholders

Until March 2021, Arqiva was a shareholder of Digital UK, but was asked to stand down by the other shareholders at the time.[8] Arqiva subsequently went through a process of restructuring.[9]

See also


  1. ^ "About us". Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  2. ^ "Digital UK - About Freeview Play".
  3. ^ "Industry-funded SwitchCo launches today". DTG. 13 April 2005.
  4. ^ "Analogue TV signals to end in October 2012". BBC. 14 October 2011.
  5. ^ BBC, ITV and Channel 4 announce the completion of Digital UK and Freesat’s integration BBC Media Centre. 8 July 2021.
  6. ^ UK TV Earthquake: Freeview And Freesat Become One Company by Or Goren, Cord Busters, July 8 2021.
  7. ^ "Channel 5 joins Digital UK".
  8. ^ "Digital UK shareholder update". Arqiva. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  9. ^ Bevir, George. "Arqiva confirms restructure and redundancies". IBC. Retrieved 4 June 2021.