Freeview has announced that free-to-air television viewing in Australia surged in the latter part of 2009 as a result of new digital channels launched on its platform.

It took a swipe at the pay TV sector, indicated that it posted a fall in viewing levels in the final months of last year.

In weeks 36 to 52 of 2009, OzTAM figures revealed that free-to-air TV viewing increased by 2.2% compared with the same period in 2008.

Over the same weeks last year, pay TV viewing declined by 4.4%, compared with 2008.

Freeview said that the figures are proof that Australian viewers more enthusiastic about free-to-air TV, largely due to the launch of digital channels by all the free-to-air networks.

“The launch of all these new digital channels, under the Freeview brand name, has produced very real growth in terms of overall viewing of free-to-air TV, while we’ve seen pay TV viewing figures decline at the same time,” said Freeview CEO Robin Parkes.

“These figures are also great news for advertisers on free-to-air TV as they reap the benefits of higher viewing figures. Freeview is all about more for free for the Australian viewer, and this year we’ll be putting even more weight behind that promise.”