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'The King's Speech' Inks Free TV Deal in U.K. (Exclusive)

BEST PICTURE: “The King’s Speech”
Laurie Sparham/The Weinstein Company

The royal drama will debut on Channel 4 in March 2013 following Momentum Pictures deal.

LONDON – Multi Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth, is finally destined to be seen by British television viewers on free TV after a deal was struck by its U.K. distributor Momentum Pictures.

But viewers hoping to see the British pic on non-subscription services will have to wait until March 2013, when it will be aired on Channel 4 in the U.K.

It will also air on Channel 4’s movie channel after its U.K. terrestrial television premiere in March 2013.

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The deal comes almost a year after the movie’s multiple triumphs at the Oscars in 2011 which saw the movie garner nods for best picture, director, original screenplay and best actor for Firth.

The film is one of the big draws playing on Christmas Day this year in the primetime evening slot on satcaster BSkyB’s Sky Movies Premiere.

The movie’s free-tv sale has taken a protracted length of time after the BBC and Channel 4 became embroiled in a bidding war to secure the title for non-subscription viewers here.

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Momentum Pictures president Xavier Marchand told The Hollywood Reporter the deal was struck after Channel 4 nosed ahead in the bidding.

“I think Channel 4 was in a position to offer more money,” Marchand said.

Tim Highsted for Chanel 4 and Nick Smith for Momentum sealed the deal.

Both broadcasters' standalone movie arms, BBC Films and Film4, turned down the opportunity to back the script when it was offered in development.

Momentum, owned by Canada’s Alliance Films, snapped up all U.K. rights and invested a crucial amount of money in the film to help shepherd the Royal drama to the big screen.

Film4 famously declined to participate in the film because it already had a King George VI drama on its development slate. Named Hyde Park on Hudson, directed by Roger Michell and starring Bill Murray, Laura Linney and Olivia Williams is currently in post-production.