British mast giant Arqiva is pulling its investment in digital TV platform Freeview in the wake of a row over how to stave off pressure from streaming rivals.
The telecoms group said it will step down as a shareholder in Digital UK, the company that controls its joint venture with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, in March.
Arqiva, which has been involved in Freeview’s development since its inception in 2002, said it will withdraw from its day-to-day management responsibilities and will no longer be a shareholder in the brand’s marketing arm.
But the company, which operates more than 1,000 TV towers across the UK, said it will continue to support Freeview as a transmission provider for digital TV.
“While we have stepped down as shareholder, we believe in the platform’s future and will continue to deliver and invest in the infrastructure and related services required to provide a wide and growing range of services to our media customers,” said Shuja Khan, chief commercial officer of Arqiva.
It comes after Arqiva clashed with its Freeview partners over plans to develop a streaming service to take on the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
The company refused to help fund the Freeview Play service because it will not rely on traditional broadcasting infrastructure, the Sunday Telegraph reported last month.
The platform is now on the hunt for fresh funding, and Arqiva’s withdrawal will raise questions over whether the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 will cough up more cash to plug the gap.
The broadcasters are currently facing a review into their future amid growing competition from deep-pocketed Silicon Valley rivals.
Jonathan Thompson, chief executive of Digital UK said Arqiva had been an “important and valued partner”.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely together in the future to ensure the platform remains just as compelling for British viewers in the future,” he said.