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Crown Castle axe 'mystery channel' CBM

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A major row has broken out between Crown Castle, the transmission network, and CBM Media 'the mystery channel' for Freeview which was expected to launch at the end of August.

Crown Castle UK holds the licence for two of the Freeview multiplexes. Earlier this year it had announced that one channel would be leased to CBM Media. There has been much speculation about the nature of the proposed channel: reports suggest it was to pioneer a mix of sport, business news (from Bloomberg) and the provision of independent access to Freeview for different periods of time.

However, today (6 August) Crown Castle announced that it "has ended its commercial arrangements with CBM Media Limited for use of channel 22." The official reason is that the "continued success of Freeview has increased the value of what is probably the last free-to-view 24-hour DTT TV channel."

Crown Castle said that it is considering splitting the slot into a number of smaller time-shifted channels allowing several broadcasters to share the channel; maximising the content range of channel 22 for viewers. This fuelled CBM's fury! "It appears from the terms of their press release that Crown Castle are now seeking to exploit the channel-broking concept that CBM have pioneered."

The statement added: "CBM is actively considering its options, which include taking legal proceeding for breach of contract by Crown Castle and making a formal complaint to the Independent Television Commission on competition grounds."

A CBM Media spokesman said, "As far as we are concerned Crown Castle are trying to renege on our contract signed in April last and there is no valid basis for termination. We have found Crown Castle almost impossible to deal with from the outset and lacking in goodwill towards our exciting new concept."