back to article Freesat launches in UK

Freesat, the UK's latest package of free-to-air TV channels, this time transmitted from a satellite, has now gone live, allowing comsumers access to standard-definition and HD broadcasting for a single, one-off payment. What the company couldn't say today is precisely what that payment will be. SD-only kit will be priced from £ …

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Anonymous Coward

De-tune...

All Radio (I have a radio), Shopping, Interactive, Regional, Children, "Special Interest" & ITV Regionals.

"Overseas property channel" & Wedding TV (Surely they're shopping btw)

S4C (Surely regional?)

Right there we are, freeview again.

Although I have to strip half that from the program guide there as well nothing worse than getting bogged down in crap when you're channel hopping.

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The problem is....

When they quote how many channels they are carrying they include channels like QVC, Bid-up TV et-al, which are just a TV version of the high street. They are not really channels at all.

Add to that the radio stations that you can already get and the fact that they include all the regional variations of BBC etc, and the real channel list is about 25.....

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Linux

Quit complaining, this is good news!

Those complaining are ignoring the fact that this is the starting lineup, expect it to double by the end of the year and continue growing from there. This is also the only place you are going to find FTV HD for a long time - at far better quality than Sky's HD which is visually inferior to BBC SD content.

I welcome the launch of FreeSat and I'll be picking up my PCI DVB-S tuner at the weekend to expand the capabilities of my MythTV box to 2xDVB-T (Terrestrial), 1xHardware Capture (Cable) and 1xDVB-S (Satellite). Being able to finally record some HD content will be nice.

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Most pressing question

Is when Price Drop TV HD will be launched?

That alone will make HD worthwhile. 24 hours 7 days a week of unmentionable tat being flogged with the same desperate enthusiasm seen in Hitler's Bunker around May Day 1945.

And you know it's coming...

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Coat

Gufsat..

..says it all really.

I got rid of my TV a long time ago - it has went downhill since the last time i visited someone who still has one. There is far more interesting things to watch on the internet.

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Boffin

More to the point...

Where's the receiver that can record two or three channels simultaneously while watching another? It can't be *that* difficult to stick a new front end on existing kit.

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Hopefully...

hopefully even if nothing else good comes of this it will encourage Sky to drop the £10/month HD tax (after you've already shelled out on their HD box)

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What a pile of pants

Great, idea, typical British implementation :-/

Only 1 HD channel on launch, no PVR.

They've only had two years to get things to this point. I will buy the Humax PVR when its available in late summer.

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Ben

Confused

I'm confused now. We have had a service called Freesat from Sky at work for a while now - it was the simplest and cheapest way to get TV. This offering looks to be identical - same service, same one-off install cost, etc., even including the name - but it's not being offered through Sky. Is it the same thing - just now offered by companies other than Sky?

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FTA

Apart from the addition of C4/E4/More4, I don't see how this is any different to how I've been receiving the FTA channels on my DVB-S card up till now. The fact that there is now some "official" non-Sky kit doesn't seem all that significant to me.

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Coat

QVC

...is not a TV version of the high street.

It's a very odd version of the Truman Show, crossed with something like Home and away. Watching the individual presenters slowly go (more) insane whilst peddling tat to the great unwashed often beats your Battlestar Galacticas, 24s and Losts hands down.

Who can wait to see if the sizzling chemistry between Dale Franklin and Pipa comes to a head? Will Julia (not that one) Roberts' gradual slide into insanity be fully played out on our screens or will the company quitely slide her into an institution before the worst happens (Expletive-laden outburst whilst presenting a section on faux-tupperware? Drunken striptease? Who knows?!)? Will Charlie Brooks caught fondling a camera-man, whilst telling him that Tanzanite is a thousand times rarer than diamonds?

QVC is all good stuff, and rarely worthy of the scorn heaped on it by people who have never seen it.

Bid up TV *is* tat though, and should be stopped.

Mine's the one with a signed picture of Dale, some Diamonique ear studs and an entirely empty social diary in the pocket

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Sky dish

Can you stick a standard sky dish into the back of one of these boxes, without any repointing (I assume so)? If this is the case, I know a fair few people who would want one, as they have become disillusioned with Sky/Murdoch.

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Happy

One-off payment?

I have had free satellite TV for years. Among others I get all of the BBC channels, most of ITV; only channel 5 is missing. I live in the sticks, where I can't get a terrestrial signal, much less Freeview. Just got an aerial and pointed it to Astra. Maplin sells aerials and receivers (as do various specialised online shops).

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Buy Freesat?

Well worth changing over from Freeview to Freesat......not!

Al-Jazeera instead of Sky News....what a bargain.

Only possible advantage is being able to see Scottish football instead of wall to wall English crap.

We must be due for another repeat of the 1966 match, surely? It has not been on for at least 5 minutes.

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I can see only a few channels there that I can't get on freeview,

and they are channels I don't want.

NEXT!

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@JonB

S4C is available on Sky. It's the only reason I still have a Sky box plugged in. Kind of hard to regionally limit the transmission from a Satellite, and there's no point in artificially preventing us England based Taffs catch up on a bit of Cymraeg.

Most regional BBC TV stations are also available on SKY. They're between the radio and the pr0n (I suppose that's between the rock and a hard place)

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Happy

Freesat on Astra!!!

So, if it uses the same satellite as Sky, does that mean that all Sky subscribers can just swap out their boxes for these new BBC ones?

It means all those Sky subscribers who live across Europe no longer have to pay those middlemen companies £900 or more for a standard Sky+ box, plus a massive annual fee on top of the standard £40 a month Sky+ subscriptions.

Instead we can just pick up a couple of these in Comet or whatever next time we're in the UK and bingo, multi-room TV in english!

I like the sound of this :o)

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Freesat launches today?

So, can you explain how I've been receiving Freesat for about three years now?

Or should that actually read "Freesat re-launches today and adds HD content"?

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Go

You get what you pay for

OK, so it isn't really 80 actual channels, but at least it means we have an alternative to Freeview. I personally can't get Freeview through the rusted coat-hanger calling itself an areal on my roof, which is unlikely to be changed by my land lord any time soon. A satellite version is better than nothing.

Also, If you have a SkyTV subscription and you cancel it after a year, you end up reverting to this service instead. Again, better than nothing.

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sky with no subscription

how does this differ from getting a skybox with no subscription and watching all the FTA channels?

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Alert

What am I missing ...

Been watching free sat from sky for a few years now - what's new with this?

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To the haters...

The number of people I know who have Sky Digital because it's damned near impossible to get a Freeview signal [I can't get a signal and I'm about 15 miles from the Sandy broadcast mast FFS] isn't funny.

If this means that, having paid for a TV license you can *actually recieve a TV signal* then I might get a TV license and start watching telly again. Unlike the last three years where I just haven't bothered due to the complete lack of a digital or analogue signal.

Steven R

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Stop

Hang on a sec..

I thought we already had a Freesat service in this country. My dad ditched Sky a while back (about 2 years or more now, I think) and bought a Freesat card for about £15 and has been using that for some time. So I'm a little intrigued about how the service is only just launching...

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What about 5?

I would love FreeSat - but I am sad enough to want Channel 5 (for progammes like CSI and House plus others)

So I'm happy to stay with Freeview for now.

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Stop

HD

This looks like the most viable alternative (for broadcast HD) to giving your money to the Dirty Digger, at least until we have 24 mbit/s broadband throughout the UK. I don't want Cable from those Phorm supporters.

So it's "Launched" today. Really. Where can I buy a receiver today and arrange for the installation ? Perhaps I should wait for the HD PVR from Humax, I just hope it'll have an enormous HDD.

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Radio EPG

Let's hope they have an EPG (with series linking!) for the Radio stations, something Sky seems unable (or unwilling) to provide ...

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PVR/Sky+ equivalent

The question is, when is a PVR/Sky+ equivalent set top box coming? Once that comes out, I can see myself switching my Sky+ box for a Freesat HD box so I don't have to give any more money to Sky!

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Heart

another happy myth tv user

Mythtv + freeview + freesat = keeping me away from the beast that is sky TV and having a lot more money each month.

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Anonymous Coward

Where's the hardware?

I've been eagerly looking forward to this for a while now (free HD! also, our freeview and analogue reception is atrocious), but come launch day, I've yet to find someone selling the boxes needed to view it...

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Grundig / Bush.....

.... are both part of the ALBA empire.

Shame really, Grundig always made conservative but good quality stuff. Now it is just cheap chinese s**t with a German badge on it.

Bit like that Cherry / BMWX5 knock off that is kicking around.

Ho hum.

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Coat

Freesat/Freeview/Sky/VM???

Tbh with all the shite thats freely transmitted at the moment why bother with any of them. As a regular traveller to the US (work not choice) and seeing the complete and utter skipful of donkey c**k they peddle on their boxes, to see it coming to the fore over here makes me weep.

Get a library card, get a better job to buy more books, hell download books of mininova and print them...anythings better than boasting you have 5 million channels when not one of them shows anything of any worth.

[/rant]

[edit: good progs like 24 and prison break can always be downloaded or you can see the hairy geezer down the pub for a dodgy decoder card]

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what's the news?

so what's the news?

i have all those channels (and lots more) on my dreambox for ages... most of it is full of adverts what they play much louder than the program or film what is handy if you want to do something else. also they start those adverts at the same time so no channel hopping. :)

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Confused

What’s new here. All those channels have been available on Astra 2, without any subscription for what, 2-3 years? You don’t need a sky box or a card, just a cheap receiver, with HD if required.

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Anonymous Coward

I'd prefer

Something like "the quantum box" and use freesat in that fomat.

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Launch? - We've had this for years already...

Agree with some of the above comments. You've been able to get this free on sky for ages!! Just cancel your subscription or buy a freesat card (£15) from them.

The only difference I can see with this 'new service' from a casual glance is the addition of E4 (which for some reason is on Freeview but not on Sky's Freesat...)

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Anonymous Coward

Freesat vs freesat

"I thought we already had a Freesat service in this country. My dad ditched Sky a while back "

That's 'Freesat from Sky' that was a bundle of channels, most of which you didn't need the card for, but Sky would sell you the card anyway, and even charge you a tenner a month to use their fancy plus decoder on the free channels. (Channel 4 got royally scr*wed when they signed an exclusive to it, later Channel 4 channels were free to air rather than Sky exclusives).

Freesat is a BBC trademark, 'Freesat from Sky' will probably be killed now, since it's FUD value has ended and nobody will pay the digger when they don't need to. Since it's on Astra it will mean only a switch of boxes to say goodbye to Sky.

Expect Murdochs papers to attack it relentlessly, naturally.

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differences...

Off the top of my head (and to the best of my recollection) these are the notable differences I'm seeing (NB - I'm disregarding a LOT of the dross I'd never even go near, not to mention the semi-pointless regional variations they're using to fill up space.)

Compared to my Stanard Def SKY FTA service...

Missing:

Five

FIVER

Five US

SKY Three

SKY News

Film4+1

ROCKWORLD

Additional:

E4

More4

BBC HD

Compared to FreeView (forgive errors and omissions, since I don't have this)...

Missing:

Five

FIVER

Five US

E4+1

More4+1(?)

Dave

SKY Three

Virgin 1

Additional:

BBC HD(?)

In my mind I see the three services as a Ven diagram, with some significant overlap between all, but no one service having everything (worthwhile) that the others have. Though overall I'd say that Freesat looks like the worst of the bunch. I think I'll stick with cheapo SKY FTA for the moment.

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Anonymous Coward

@Hywel Thomas

I was observing that the channel list is divided into sections and yet S4C isn't in the "regional" section.

I've no objection to them transmitting gibberish or I'd never watch anything. ;)

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Boffin

Footprint question

Does anyone know if the footprint is tight on the UK, or can it be received on the continent? The Beeb is very protective of its programmes and license fee, and tends to stop free output via IP being viewable abroad. I wondered if they were doing something similar here.

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V
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There is no big difference but...

You are all right. There are very few differences between "Freesat from BBC/ITV" and "Freesat from Sky". (Of course when the Freesat PVR launches it will be free to record, whereas Sky want you to pay £120 for the privilege of using your PVR as a PVR).

The real benefit from this story is that eventually one thing will be embedded in people's head: SatelliteTV<>Sky.

This is not a service aimed at people experienced with satellite TV. For years they had their Dreamboxes and Diseqc HD receivers and motorised dishes etc. This is primarily aimed at the less tech-savvy people whose analogue TV will be switched off and in absence of proper Freeview they would think "I need to buy Sky to continue watching TV."

Well... You don't.

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Jobs Horns

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Reading an article from auntie about this I noticed:

"Mr Grade said ITV's HD service would launch "with an unrivalled line-up of premium football".

It will only be available to Freesat users, a decision which drew criticism from BSkyB. "

I nearly wet myself laughing.

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E4 and More 4 are available FTA

Checked my SKY freesat today and E4 and More 4 are now available on that - they weren't yesterday. It seems they have gone free to air today so the old Sky digital box and dish now appear to be on a par with this new offering.

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@JonB

>> Although I have to strip half that from the program guide there as

>> well nothing worse than getting bogged down in crap when you're

>> channel hopping.

Surely you mean channel hoping - i.e. relentlessly switching channels in the hope that you might find something worth watching.

Also to those who don't see the difference between this and Freesat from Sky, the difference is subtle but major. Freesat from Sky was/is tied into Sky, you can only really use their boxes for full functionality (encrypted channels being a sore point with third party boxes and lack of decent EPG making PVR difficult, IIRC). The only real choice for PVR is a Sky+ box from Sky, and require and a Sky+ subscription at £10 per month (only £6 less than a Sky subscription).

So far as I can see this opens up the market massively which has so far been massively controlled by Sky. It is cheaper for broadcasters to transmit, which should mean a few more Channels. It is also means more choice for receiving hardware which should increase competition and lower prices.

@bluesxman, yes there are more channels currently on Freesat from Sky, but that is because they are currently contracted to Sky and are encrypted (so would only work on Sky boxes). The reason there will be so many new channels by the end of the years is that a lot of the contracts are due to run out soon, and Real Freesat is a lot cheaper for broadcasters. All the Real Freesat channels will be available on your existing Freesat from Sky, so I imagine you can stick with that as long as you like.

@rathga, the reason E4 is on Freeview and not Freesat from Sky, is that until recently E4 was in a contract with with Sky which required it to be encrypted and only available to subscribers (they got screwed) - perhaps Sky gave them a discount on the transmission fees because it only available to subscribers. The reason it is on Real Freesat and Freeview is that the transmission fees are much lower and the exclusive satellite contract with Sky has ended.

As to those who want to know what it offers that Freeview doesn't:

* more channels

* hopefully better EPG with series linking

* better coverage - most places with poor tv coverage don't get freeview very well (at least till the switch off), neither do they get cable; the only choice for many is Sky, until now - e.g. I live in an area with no cable, very unreliable freeview, and terrestrial with no Five and no BBC2 or Channel4 when we get low pressure (or high pressure, or both, I can't remember but it is pretty often), the only choice is satellite until the switch off in 2012.

* also, in many/most cases, fitting a satellite dish doesn't necessitate climbing on the roof, unlike fitting an arial - so more people could do it themselves, saving more money.

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Joe
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@V

Yes, I hope you're right! For far too long the Great British Public has considered satellite TV == Sky. Having a non-Sky setup was considered odd (especially as one of the non-Astra sats is unfortunately called "Hot Bird").

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Anonymous Coward

Ireland

I've had free sat for years here in Ireland... All I really see with this is no C5 / Sky news and you get E4 / More4 instead....

I don't care about HD as this would mean having to go all the ways to specsavers so I could actually see the difference :)

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Stop

Freeview fails...

This has got to be the end of freeview and must completely scupper the digital switchoff. Now we have the abysmal situation whereby people have bought a freeview box, then a new TV only to discover they have to shell out yet again to get a service that was always touted for terrestrial broadcast (until OFCOM realised how much cash could be made from spectrum selloffs).

The timing is a spectacular disaster.

A shocking state of affairs and a damning reflection on OFCOM and government.

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Gates Horns

Freesat? Nah!

I've just got a couple of Freeview boxes free through a work bonus scheme - cost me 20 quid for a couple of scart cables and an internal antenna as I don't have a roof ariel, only a cable TV point. I've got all the telly I need for now without an ugly dish stuck to the side of my flat!

Freesat is a great idea though for those that don't like/don't want to/can't get Sky.

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I'm surprised people here aren't getting this...

Yes, if you dig hard on the Sky website you can get what they decided to call "Freesat from Sky" (after the BBC/Sky chose the Freesat name). They don't publicise that much. Funny that. A man from Sky will then call round and install a proprietry Sky digibox. Sky will then keep pestering you to take their premium channels.

If you go for Freesat you can go out and buy a Freesat box of any make. Sure there are only going to be a few manufacturers of them initially - as was the case with Freeview - but with time the number available will rise and the price will fall.

Elsewhere in Europe people are not tied to one brand of satellite receiver the way people in the UK have been. They can buy any receiver of any make and a Conditional Access Module into which they can put a card from the broadcaster of their choice. Sky refuse to allow CAMs for their service, effectively stifling the sales of satellite receivers in the UK. It's a bit like Microsoft saying you can only use Windows on a Dell PC, which you buy through Microsoft (and if you want to use Linux on a PC - well that's ok but it's best if you buy it from Microsoft so as to allow them to convince you Windows is better). Sky's EPG information is not accessible to any receiver except a Sky Digibox.

Freesat opens the market. Yes, it's creaking open, and only open a little now. But it'll get better in time. E4 and More4 changed to be broadcasting Free To Air on satellite today.

Humax say they will have an HD PVR later this summer... and it's worth noting - perhaps for another room - that if you have Sky+ you're likely to have a 4-output LNB on your dish, of which Sky+ only uses two.

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@JonB

Ah. I'm with you. My bad.

I think it does make sense to have S4C as a distinct entertainment channel rather than being buried with the regionals. S4C (digital at least) isn't a regional variation of C4, it's completely separate. It is a hybrid beast on analogue, and C4 gives up its slot on digital terrestrial (though C4+1 is still there).

It would make a bit more sense if we could reorder and categorise the channels ourselves. For me, S4C is mainly a sport channel.

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Freesat vs Sky

Well, I've been waiting <im>patiently for this to launch (today, when their website died), simply to see what prices it'll be, since that's not been generally known.

Argos are offering an installation for £80. It's not been specified, but I'm guessing that's for an SD box (+dish etc etc).

Sky are offering a one off fee of £75 (plus if you input sky10 into the promotional code £67), for a similar service (also, I'm guessing, SD), but with 4 months free extra sky channels which you cancel before the end and continue receiving freeview stuff for nothing.

Very cool launch guys... I might as well buy the sky offer, wait six months and get an HD freesat box when they're cheaper & might actually have some HD content worth having.

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