There has been substantial speculation about UKTV’s Gold coming to Freeview. Is there any truth in the reports? What’s the latest on the matter?
A stalwart of the multi-channel landscape, Gold, which in the last 15 years has switched to being focussed on British comedies, appears to be top of viewer’s Freeview wishlists.
It is currently part of various pay TV packages, including those from Sky, Now TV and Virgin Media.
Speculation that the channel would appear on Freeview went through the roof when in 2020, some social media users noticed Gold appeared on the list of channels that had been given an Ofcom licence for broadcasting on digital terrestrial television, known more commonly in the UK as ‘Freeview’.
UKTV viewer enquiries were swift to point out that the inclusion of Gold was a clerical error at Ofcom. The channel was not about to appear on Freeview, they added.
Indeed, a short time later, the erroneous listing was removed from Ofcom’s digital terrestrial television licence list. The year ended without Gold launching on Freeview.
As of early 2021, Gold does not hold a licence broadcast on Freeview. And UKTV has not made any announcement about Gold going on Freeview.
Incidentally, Gold is currently part of carriage deals negotiated between UKTV and various pay TV operators. This means the channel is contractually obligated to be exclusive to pay TV until these deals expire. Until any of these factors changes, all reports of Gold arriving on Freeview are pure speculation.
In the meantime, many of the classic dramas, soaps and some comedies that used to be shown on Gold are now available on UKTV’s free channels. Notably, you can find classic The Bill, EastEnders and drama on Drama (channel 20). Yesterday (channel 26) includes classic comedies such as ‘Allo, ‘Allo and One Foot in the Grave.
But if you want to watch cult comedies including Only Fools and Horses, you’ll need Gold. The easiest way to get Gold is through a Now TV Entertainment Pass. Accessed via a streaming device or a compatible smart TV, the pass means you don’t have to change to a pay TV supplier, nor sign-up for more than a month at a time.
Could things change in the future?
UKTV has recently been acquiring Freeview slots, which will give it more flexibility over what it offers Freeview viewers in the future. In 2020, the broadcaster took control over a subsidiary of Ideal World that operated the CCXTV channel on Freeview. The takeover gave UKTV control of channel 23, allowing it to promote Dave Ja Vu (Dave+1) up the channel list. And it replaced CCXTV with Drama+1.
So while Gold’s arrival on Freeview is currently speculation, UKTV is currently holding a number of additional Freeview slots which could be used for new services in the future.