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The Closedown Of ITV Digital


15th November 1998 - 1st May 2002
3 years, 5 months, 16 days...

Since the City announced its thoughts on ITV Digital's economic status in March 2002, most people in the know knew by then that ITV Digital was doomed.  Here is doomsday.  May 1st 2002 will go down in history as being the final day for ITV Digital, the world's first digital terrestrial service, albeit 7 hours of the day.  Many reasons were given for the fall of the service, mainly the issue of football rights to the Football League, others say the domination of BSkyB on the digital market.  Whatever the reason, ITV Digital were said to be 6 months away from breaking even.  

Between March and May 1st, many changes have happened visually to signify the gradual closedown of ITV Digital.  Here are some of the main /TVA/TVA Digital/images of that closedown period...

© ITV Digital plc

The first service on ITV Digital to closed down came from the SDN multiplex in the form of ITV Select.  The service closed down promptly after the announcement from ITV Digital's administrators Deloitte & Touche on 22nd April 2002 at 10pm.  At a similar time, the two "barker" channels were also closed, replaced with the test card as seen below.

© ITV Digital plc

Little else occurred until 30th April 2002, when out of the blue at 3.45pm, it was announced that ITV Digital was to close their pay-TV service from initially midnight, then 7am on May 1st.  The licence to broadcast was revoked by the ITC, and immediately re-advertised.  

© ITV Digital plc

All pay-TV channels broadcasting on ITV Digital's multiplexes were to be replace with this caption...

Before they closedown, most channels displayed captions redirecting people to other pay-TV services to continue watching their channel.  The first pay-TV service to display this caption was UK Style at 2am.  Granada Plus displayed this caption at 6am, with UK Gold following at 6.40am.  Carlton Cinema was the only channel to close at 7am on the dot.  Sky Moviemax & Sky Premier both had movies running till 7.40am, so these were the last channels to close down as part of the 7am agreement.


Before they closed down, UKTV, MTV and Paramount displayed captions redirecting people to other pay-TV services to continue watching their channel.

© ITV Digital plc

From midnight, May 1st, ITV Digital's information service was replaced with this similar MHEG caption, detailing what has happened in the past few hours.

However, digital terrestrial continued to live on as a free-to-view platform.  The only pay-TV channels confirmed to continue past the 7am doomsday line is E4 and FilmFour, due to their carriage on their (Channel 4's) own multiplex.  These channels ceased broadcasting on 24th May 2002, displaying a re-direction caption...  

...Television X was still available, due to its carriage on the SDN multiplex, unaffected by the loss of licence of ITV Digital multiplexes, however subsequently closed.

© ITV Digital plc
Vidcap by Chris Wathen

...the ITV Sport Channel became a free-to-air channel, offering free sport to a wider range of viewers, before it promptly closed 11 days later.

Finally, its being widely reported that the new "owners" of the three multiplexes up for sale get a free stash of ITV Digital Monkeys to use as part of their marketing plans.  Whether that is true is another story, however it may be possible that the "Monkey" lives on...

God save digital terrestrial, long live ITV.

Copyright remains with the respective broadcasting companies.
Thanks to Chris Wathen for clarifying further points regarding other broadcasters activities during this period.

Last Updated: February 11, 2020

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