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The spec for Freeview Connect – the next generation of Freeview that's been likened to YouView – has been released to hardware manufacturers. That means TV and set-top box makers can start toying with it and making prototypes to test.

The Digital TV Group, an association for the UK TV industry, will set up a test lab for possible Freeview Connect devices. All products will hence meet the required standard and – hopefully – work without a hitch.

Arqiva, which manages Freeview masts, will provide the metadata system that will let the hybrid digital terrestrial and on-demand service work.

The service will be headed up by former Freeview boss Ilse Howling, who is now managing director of connected TV at Digital UK. She said in a statement: "These agreements are a crucial step in the road to giving millions of Freeview viewers the freedom to watch what they want, when they want.

"We are delighted with the progress we are making and the levels of interest from manufacturers, retailers and viewers. We look forward to working with Arqiva and our other partners who together will play a vital role in bringing the next generation of Freeview products to life."

Like YouView, Freeview Connect will feature catch-up shows from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 using a backwards-scrolling EPG. No new partners were announced today.

Freeview Connect was said to be born after certain broadcasters grew disgruntled with YouView. YouView was supposed to be affordable but has remained relatively expensive. The most affordable way to get a YouView box is bundled with a broadband subscription, but it was supposed to be a subscription-free service. It's hoped Freeview Connect will fulfil the original vision for YouView.

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