Freeview set to hold pitch to raise customer take-up

Freeview - the BBC-backed digital terrestrial service - is to stage a pitch for consumer and trade PR support as it looks to boost customer take-up.

Freeview general manager Matthew Seaman said he had already held 'tentative discussions' with 'a couple' of PR agencies, but envisaged inviting up to five to pitch.

'We are looking to extend the remit of our PR and plan to grow both the consumer and trade remits. Up until now it has mainly been trade,' he said.

Freeview has used Franklin Morrow Communications since last summer, when the agency was hired in advance of the launch last October.

Franklin Morrow partner Janet Morrow said the PR brief had initially included attempting to restore confidence in the digital terrestrial platform, which was badly damaged after ITV Digital 'collapsed spectacularly' last year.

When Freeview - which is a joint-venture between BBC, BSkyB and infrastructure firm Crown Castle International - launched, former ITV Digital subscribers still possessing the set-top box could migrate across without paying the one-off sign-up charge of £99.

Seaman said a formal pitch process was likely in around a fortnight, with contracts starting within eight weeks, but he declined to disclose the fees and length of the contract up for grabs, saying such aspects were 'under discussion'.

By the end of February this year, Freeview had sold around 500,000 adapters - which convert TV sets to receive a digital signal - taking the number of households with the service up to around 1.4m.

Seaman said Freeview had 59 per cent consumer awareness, according to one poll, and that the ultimate purpose of future PR would be to translate this into greater adapter sales.

Twenty-five TV channels, including BBC THREE, BBC FOUR, UK History, ITV2, Sky News and CBBC are available via Freeview, plus 16 radio networks and four text services.

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