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back to article Free BBC HD satellite TV service given green light

The BBC has been given the go-ahead to partner with ITV to launch a free-to-view digital TV service transmitted by satellite. The service will include HD programming. The BBC currently sends out all its channels via satellite in an unencrypted form. Satellite broadcaster Sky offers more than a hundred other channels free of …

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Sounds great...

...particularly as we just switched to Sky and will probably be getting an HDTV soon, but does it require a Sky HD box to work?

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Free? Excellent!

Free sounds great. So I won't need to pay the BBC license fee any more?

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Anonymous Coward

The service will include HD programming.

That's all it has going for it. No Channel 4 or 5. And the box will have to be paid for just like Free To View from Sky.

No Freeview where I live and no guarantee of it when analogue is turned off in 2012 either.

What's that phrase about a party in a brewery?.

.

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Different to SkyHD

This is a totally different proposition to SkyHD where you get to pay an extra tenner a month on top of your normal subscription for HD content - this is free to air HD content.

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Running before they can walk

As its OUR money that the BBC are splashing around it would be really good if they concentrated on one area of delivery.

Satellite reception for a lot of the UK is not good, for example - it only takes very heavy rain or clouds and my Sky box just gives up.

Freeview is pretty ropey as well.. for various reasons.

So we will have two flawed methods of delivering digital TV content... brilliant!

I assume we get both and then use a third box to combine the two crap signals to produce one slightly less crap signal?

Or maybe the next move by the BBC will be cable delivery?

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Sky monopoly

Sky has a monopoly for a million or so households who can't even get analogue terrestrial without snow and hissing. Of course city dwellers wouldn't know about that. To broadcast bought-in content like films, the broadcaster has to restrict the coverage to the UK. This requires encryption, with decoders provided to known addresses. In the rest of Europe, I believe satellite broadcasters are required to use an encryption system that can be installed in any satellite box with a slot. So manufacturers can compete by making nice boxes that do clever things. For some unknown reason, Sky is allowed to lock the encryption (which free-to-view broadcasters are more or less compelled to use) to their own box, and key features of the box (DVR function) to paid monthly subscriptions. Then the pricing of the channel packages is carefully structured to force the rest of us to pay for bloody football.

It's time to take away Sky's monopoly on the box, the encryption, and the EPG. Sky is leveraging a partial monopoly into a much larger dominance through government's failure to regulate. Could this be connected with the fact that the Sun always seems to back the winner before a general election?

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This post has been deleted by its author

Factuality

"Dubbed Freesat - the same name, incidentally, as Sky's free package - the service is set to go live in Spring 2008."

This 'coincidence' is in fact not so much of a coincidence, the BBC actually owns the trade mark for Freesat (has done for some time) and the Sky service is called "Freesat From Sky", wisely neither party has interfered with the other, because both benefit from each others marketing efforts.

Steve,

For a while I was responsible for most of the transmission of BBC services over satellite, the transmissions are over 99.99% reliable and from a consumer point of view the reception in the UK is intended to be 99.97% at worst case. If you are getting a service worse than this then you need to look at your installation.

Those people who are in the far extremities of the UK, however, are advised to have a larger dish to maintain quality of reception. There is no conspiracy to con people with the satellite transmissions, they are formed to the highest standards by a group of highly experienced and skilled engineers. They are proud that most months they are able to report reliability figures of 100%.

On the other side, there are occasions when reception will fail, it is in the lap of the gods as to the environment and as these are microwave transmissions of a small fraction of a Watt coming from space. The clouds will absorb this and there is nothing we in the industry can do about that.

It is a shame there is a monopoly on DTH services in the UK for satellite, but the world is changing fast.

Bob

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sky monopoly

BBC and ITV have recently stopped using encryption. They restrict coverage by using satellites with a smaller footprint which is meant to just cover the UK though as some of the other comments suggest that isn't entirely the case.

CH4 and Five for their own reasons have decided to stay encrypted and it will be a couple of years before their contact comes up for renewal.

However Sky has flooded the market with subsidised receivers which can only properly work with Sky which uses its own proprietary standards which it keeps secret.

It is possible to received satellite TV in the UK without a Sky box but because it doesn't support the sky standardrds you wont get CH4, CH5 no programme guide and no interactive services.

This leads to a public perception that sky boxes are somehow "better" of indeed that Sky and satellite TV are one and the same.

If and when BBC does launch an HD satellite service you can expect that there will be "fair and balanced" reports of how awful it is all over the Murdoch press.

This is a great pity because in many ways satellite TV is superior to its terrestrial version. There is much more space for such things as HD channels and no need to cover the country with high power transmitters.

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Tim

Trade descriptions act.

Freeview is not free, this won't be free.

So long as we are being harrassed into buying a license, tv programming will never be free.

Free TV is when the hardware and the programming is free, so who wants to sue for misrepresentation... or whatever.

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Roll on FreesatHD

Ok - Ive got Sky+ and another box connected to my satellite dish (a Pace DS810 - 80 quid) that gets the one current free Hi-Def channel from the BBC - a testing channel called 'BBC HD'. The Pace box also gets the rest of the free to view channels save Ch4/5, and does a fine job.

Hearing that more HD channels will come thorugh my Pace box is excellent, and as for quality - just watch Planet Earth at full 1080i and then compare with SD - its breathtaking - the odd selection of HD stuff they are boradcasting on the test channel is sure to grow now Freesat has been agreed.

As for the EPG issue - well, Im curious as to why this Pace box doesnt at least have a good 7 day EPG for freeview channels like their 'Pace Twin' for freeview SD does.

I dont mind paying for a new box, as long as its not repeated every month.

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