Freeview launch prompts 1m calls to BBC helpline

LONDON - Freeview's initial launch looks to have been a success, with the BBC claiming it has received more than 1m enquiries about the free digital television service, and that 65,000 of the set-top boxes needed to receive it have been sold in the first two weeks of operation.

The BBC has been running an intensive £5m advertising campaign on television and radio, created by DFGW. The campaign uses the faces and voices of some of the BBC's best-known personalities including Alan Hansen, John Simpson and the Tweenies, with the strapline "The changing face of television".

Demand for the set-top boxes is reported to have been high. After the service launched on October 30, there were reports said that the freephone number set up by the BBC had to be taken off ads after demand caused the phone lines to collapse. However, this was denied by the corporation.

A survey by Mediaedge:CIA, undertaken when Freeview launched, said that 3% of households intended to take up the service before Christmas. It also found that one in eight households were planning to get Freeview at some stage.

More than 30 different channels are available on Freeview, including BBC Choice, Sky News and UK History. There are also many digital radio stations available through the service.

Freeview is a joint venture between BBC and BSkyB, and took over from the collapsed pay-TV ITV Digital service.

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