UKTV’s female-skewing entertainment channel W has received an Ofcom licence to broadcast on Freeview, effectively confirming reports last month that the channel will soon go free-to-air.
W has just received a DTPS licence from Ofcom. The licence effectively provides regulatory clearance to launch a service on digital terrestrial TV (Freeview). W already holds a TLCS licence covering cable, satellite and online distribution. The DTPS licence for W is for a simulcast of the main channel and not a timeshift or +1 channel.
Trade journal Broadcast first reported the move last month. But as of the time of publication, UKTV has still not confirmed nor denied the free-to-air switch is taking place. However, the award of a licence for W on digital terrestrial television effectively confirms UKTV’s plans.
It is still unknown if W will be rebranded or introduce changes to its schedule when it switches to free-to-air.
Since 2020, UKTV has been preparing the way for the launch of another channel on Freeview.
In October 2020, UKTV purchased the owners of the CCXTV channel. With the purchase came a 24 hour broadcast slot and high ranking Freeview channel number in the 20s.
Early in 2021, UKTV closed CCXTV and parked Drama+1 on Freeview to secure the broadcast slot. It also parked timeshift channel Dave Ja Vu on the former CCXTV channel number – channel 23. This has recently changed to channel 25 to make way for BBC Three.
UKTV now has channels 19, 20, 25, 27, 74 and 75 at its disposal and, in accordance with Freeview channel listing rules, may shuffle its family of channels around on those numbers when W comes to Freeview.
With a switch to free-to-view, W will fully fill the gap left behind when its previous female-skewing channel Really was sold three years ago. Really was one of three UKTV channels sold to Discovery in 2019, as part of a deal enabling BBC Studios, the BBC’s commercial arm, to take full control over the remaining UKTV services.