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That is what the head of Freeview, Robin Parkes revealed last week, as pay rival Foxtel looks to merge up with regional player Austar.

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Parkes painted a promising picture of the Free TV menu for the future, which currently includes ABC, SBS, Seven, Nine, as well as newcomers 7mate and Go!, confirming the number of new channels will rise.

“We’d love to do more channels, the issue is spectrum. The networks have limited spectrum that they can broadcast on.”

Networks can reorganise their spectrum but often results in compromising HD picture quality and is a laborious process, she added.

However, “technology will keep delivering us new ways we can deliver more…so over time we will deliver more,” she told Fairfax media.

Viewers regularly tune into 11 out of the 16 current channels on offer by Freeview, the body which represents free to air digital service which was launched in April last year, although the speed of the uptake among Aussies did cause some surprise.

Audience tatings from the beginning of May indicate free-to-air TV accounted for 85 per cent of all nightly viewing in Australia and was slightly higher in regional areas. Australia’s Got Talent, Masterchef and Dancing With The Stars were among the most watched shows.

“We knew they’d be well received by the public but we weren’t quite sure how well received and how long they’d take to grow and develop,” she added.

And well received they have been. So much so that pay rival Foxtel is feeling the pinch on its new subscription growth, which CEO Kim Williams recently admitted was “dreary” in the face of a slew of free channels now on offer.

 

It could be the impetus behind its keenness to merge with regional pay TV player Austar for a pricetag of $1.9 billion, with Williams admitting the deal, if it goes ahead, is “a logical transaction.”

And it also appears Foxtel is eyeing up regions for a growth spurt claiming the merger would give “regional Australia access to the same digital services as their metropolitan counter parts.”

Foxtel would also gain an additional 760,000 subscribers, to boot.

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