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TVs

Freeview confirms YouView rival that cuts out BT and TalkTalk

The BBC and other broadcasters are backing an online-connected Freeview TV service that isn't tied to a broadband contract.

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BBC

Look out YouView: Freeview is launching an Internet-connected TV service to add catch-up and online shows to your telly without being tied to your broadband provider.

The connected service will be built into TVs and set-top boxes. Freeview hasn't yet announced a name or launch date for the service, but previous rumours hint it will be called Freeview Connect.

Freeview broadcasts good old-fashioned TV channels through the airwaves, for nowt, in time-honoured terrestrial tradition. It's built into TVs and set-top boxes, and is slightly different to rival YouView, which has pretty much the same channels but gets your shows piped in through your Internet connection. YouView boxes aren't technically tied to an Internet service provider and you can buy them on their own, but most people get them free or at a discount with their broadband packages from BT or TalkTalk.

Because it's connected to the Web, YouView has online catch-up services built-in, so you can watch the shows you missed right there on your TV just like regular programmes. Freeview's new service will do something similar, meaning you won't have to go to iPlayer or 4OD separately to see shows you don't catch first time round.

The new Freeview service is run by Digital UK, the infrastructure company that already manages Freeview's programme guide. Digital UK is owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva -- who also have a stake in YouView. Digital UK is keeping schtum on whether that will cause any conflict as Freeview goes head-to-head with YouView.

The BBC and other broadcasters are reported to be unhappy with the way YouView has turned out. Originally conceived as a free-to-air proposition -- which is why Auntie Beeb was happy to chip in with our license fee -- the service is now basically a marketing tool for BT and TalkTalk. Barely anyone buys a YouView box in shops, and the vast majority of the service's 1m users get it as part of their broadband deal.

A spokesperson for Digital UK told CNET that the new service will be different from YouView in a number of ways. The service won't be tied to a broadband provider, it will be built into TVs as well as set-top boxes, and it will be based on open technical standards.

A spokesperson for YouView told CNET that its backers have agreed funding for another five years, and "all our shareholders are pleased with the progress of YouView so far."