The launch of the biggest TV boom in history, the digital terrestrial services that form the platform for the phenomenally successful Freeview, was made possible thanks to a grant of 6.45 million euros from the EU’s Framework Programme.
The VALIDATE (Verification and Launch of Integrated Digital Advanced Television in Europe) project, technically underpinned by a BBC-led partnership, gave the UK the technical confidence to launch digital terrestrial TV in 1998. This technical expertise allowed the BBC to solve subsequent technical problems – providing robust signal quality for the 2002 launch of Freeview, offering 30 TV and 20 radio stations without subscription, to 75% of British households. With more than four million boxes being sold in the first 18 months, Freeview became the world’s fastest-selling consumer technology.
The BBC had wanted to offer licence payers the benefits of digital TV for some time. They made the first digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcast based on a newly agreed DTT standard in April 1996 – 70 years after television was invented. But they needed evidence to prove that the technical standards were adequate, so BBC Research & Development (R&D) agreed to take the lead in VALIDATE.
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