Charities given free airtime through the digital TV network

The Community Channel has been selected to become part of the free-to-view digital terrestrial TV service run by the BBC.

The charity television channel, which promotes the work of UK charities and community organisations, will be available to viewers who acquire a set-top box that cost around £100 from high-street retailers.

The channel forms part of the free-to-view network of 24 channels including BBC Choice and BBC News 24.

The Community Channel, which runs 12 hours a day, collects content around a weekly theme such as breast cancer or mental health, which is supplied by not-for-profit organisations, together with relevant programming from broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

Since its launch in September 2000, 280 not-for-profit organisations have appeared on the channel .

"Our content is vetted by the ITC so that it's balanced, fair and truthful - it's not a kind of free-for-all,

said Gerard Melling, managing director of The Community Channel.

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