Public television broadcasting started in the United Kingdom in 1936, and now has a collection of free and subscription services over a variety of distribution media, through which there are over 480 channels for consumers as well as on-demand content. There are six main channel owners who are responsible for most viewing. There are 27,000 hours of domestic content produced a year at a cost of £2.6 billion. Analogue terrestrial transmissions are currently being switched off and this is due to be completed in 2012.
Free and subscription providers are available, with differences in the number of channels, capabilities such as the programme guide (EPG), video on demand (VOD), high-definition (HD), interactive television via the red button, and coverage across the UK. Set-top boxes are generally used to receive these services; however Integrated Digital Televisions (IDTVs) can also be used to receive Freeview or Freesat. Top Up TV and BT Vision utilise hybrid boxes which receive Freeview as well as additional subscription services. Households viewing TV from the internet (YouTube, Joost, downloads etc.) are not tracked by Ofcom. The UK’s five most watched channels, BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, are available from all providers.