The BBC's service, which is now set to launch in spring 2008, will provide a "guaranteed non-subscription" digital satellite service.
The boxes will provide a HDTV satellite version of the popular Freeview service, with a number of BBC, ITV channels in high definition plus all the existing services that the current Freesat service provides.
Currently both Channel 4 and five have agreements with Sky which require their channels (with the exception of Film4) to require the use of a "Freesat From Sky" card. This means that you currently need to purchase a card from Sky Subscriber Services Ltd for 20 to watch Channel 4, five, Five US, Five Life and Sky Three.
Whilst this card is included as part of the 150 cost of Freesat From Sky, Sky have in the past invalidated the existing cards and demanded payment for a new one from Freesat users. Last time Sky did this the telephone number that was provided told customers that the must subscribe and mislead callers telling them no replacement cards were available!
The BBC/ITV service will have several potential uses:
a box-swap replacement to upgrade an existing Freesat from Sky or Sky subscription box for a box with HDTV services;
a multi-room installation with an existing dish fitted with a quad-LNB;
connection to a Windows Vista Media Centre or Windows Home Server;
Mark Thompson (BBC Director-General) said "The BBC's objective in launching Freesat is to support Digital Switchover by providing another way for licence payers to receive digital television channels and radio services, subscription free from the BBC and ITV.
"Its primary purpose is to drive digital take-up in analogue homes, particularly in those areas which are out of digital terrestrial coverage. Freesat also offers a trusted free-to-view digital upgrade path that gives licence payers all the benefits of digital television (notably high definition capability) guaranteed free of subscription."
Michael Grade (ITV Executive Chairman) said "Freesat will build on the success of Freeview by offering viewers a simple and cost effective way of upgrading to digital TV. By filling in the current gaps in Freeview coverage, Freesat will ensure that a free-to-air, no strings attached option for accessing digital TV is available to the whole of the UK ahead of digital switchover. By offering HD capability we will future proof Freesat if, as expected, high definition television continues to capture the imagination of UK viewers."
What channels will be provided?
The current single-channel HDTV service for the BBC is only a test service. It seems reasonable that the BBC will provide the main channels in HD resolution. This will probably not extend to the BBC regional news services, and may not initially include the national variations in HD.
ITV1 is the only network of theirs with regional variations, so again a "Network" version of the channel will be provided in HD, with SDTV potentially regional adverts inserted. It seems reasonable that ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV will also broadcast in HD.
It seems that the other public service broadcasters, Channel 4, five and S4C will want to get on board. This will require E4, C4, More4, five, five Life and five US to change their broadcasts, or for the new BBC Freesat to simulcast these channels as HD.
Channel 4 told the Guardian that the channel "currently has exclusive [digital satellite] carriage deals in place with Sky Digital for the majority of its channels (other than for Film4, which is broadcast free-to-air). Under the Communications Act we would expect to become subject to obligations to ensure the availability of the core channel on all satellite platforms, which would require that Channel 4 was available on Freesat."
As for the other non-public service Freeview channels:
Ftn, The Hits, TMF, UKTV Bright Ideas, UKTV History are locked into Sky subscription agreements, but obviously it would be to the benefit of Freesat if these channels could be made available to the extra 2.5 million homes.
Sky Sports News is a subscription service on satellite and Sky Three would have to go free-to-air, which may happen to show Sky's benevolence.
Your comments are always welcome. Please use the form below to add your thoughts or questions to this page. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
Ian Grice Sunday 29 April 2007 7:46PM Hinckley
So HDTV will be on Freesat and not Freeview (so far)! Buy Buy freeview, Buy Buy clunky aerials, hellow multi LNB and 1 small Dish to feed both sky and Freesat in mutlipal rooms. Alwasy said Sattilite would kill off terestrial.
Ian Grice: HDTV will always be on satellite first, as that is where all the bandwidth is... The BBC is proposing a terrestrial HDTV service which uses two aerials glued together! I would expected satellite delivery to be economic for another five years, but IPTV will take over from there.
Post code CM179DR. Receiving signals from Crystal Palace. Problem with electrical interference, worse when the dishwasher is in operation and with the distribution amplifier in circuit. Still evident to a lesser extent when dishwasher off and no amp in circuit. The outdoor aerial was installed by a professional. Is there a cure?
So the BBC are saying if we want HDTV via terrestrial we will need to change our aerial yet again!!!!!. Well the BBc can kiss my @@## and if IPTV is via the internet, We need a network thats reliable first, the whole telephone network is on its last legs as it is, try to put anything elce on it and it will all screach to a halt.
Ian: If it were for a whole heap of channels then I might just go for it, but the way things are going this might just be for one or two HDTV channels, which makes it hardly worth getting the dish. Also it's going on the main transmitters, this will never be rolled out nationwide.
Thank you briantist for your response. I already have an MK filtered socket supplying my Digital TV and another one suplying the aerial amplifier. I tried the 6W filter, but this did not improve matters. My satellitereception is unaffecated by electrical interference which leads me to suspect a terrestrialaerial problem. The existing aerial has 8 elements hence the need for an amplifier. Will a larger aerial help or will it just increase the inerference along with the increased signal level?
BUt a dish is a lot easyer to fit and less likly to get problems with than an aerial. also you will get the standard freeview chanels, and I bet more will be added because the capacity on sattilite is huge.
i reckon IPTV is an a utter waste of time- unless you can watch any channel you want in the world [no doubt about it it'll get country restricted due to the big boys winging their loosing viewing rights money] and no doubt someone will want some money from us somewhere along the line.....
I'm looking forward to BBC Freesat because that means Sky can't have their little strop saying " you're not allowed to watch our channels unless your on Sky
", because al lthat happens then- they get the mass fines-then forced to share by the law ;)
At least with freesat you can conect loads of tv,s to one dish with no loss of signal, you can get multaple outlet LNBs they use for blockes of flatts Ect, and still use 1 or 2 outlets for Sky or Sky+/SkyHD. I bet the decoda boxes wont be as cheep as a freeviewbox mind, And I will want to see the channel line up first.
This taken from satellites.co.uk regarding HD on Freesat. The problem here is capacity.
As Freesat is going to stay free-to-air all main channels including HD will always have to use Astra 2D.
It looks like there's only space left for one HD channel.
It's unlikely in the future we'll have BBC1HD,BBC2 HD and others,it's strange as even the Trust said HD features would have been essentials for the success of Freesat.om
william: The BBC Freesat service is on the primarily on Astra 2D satellites, some output will be on the other Astra 2 satellites. I've received from 2D from as far south as Greece and Portugal... is that far enough?
Thanks for map ,The foot print for freesat will be ample but will there be any other strings attached by way of some form of registration, encripted card ,phone conection or other requirements.?
Will the freesat boxes be for sale in europe to anyone ?
So whats the basic difference between what we have on free-to-air free and the New freesat ?
will any dvb-s box show the New epg listing from freesat when it goes live ? or will the New freesat box be the better option ?
the most annoying thing is the time taken trying to find the favorite basic popular chanels lost in a list of suscription chanels as with sky boxes.
The basic difference is a) a BBC HD channel and probably and ITV HD channel, b) Channel 4, E4, More4, five, five US and five Life going free-to-air, c) a BBC/ITV provided EPG, 100% independent of the Sky EPG. The EPG will be open standard, but existing boxes may need an upgrade. The Freesat boxes will be a range of different rebadged DVB-S2/DVB-S boxes. Yes, the cluttered EPG will not be missed.
All good stuff ,It would seem to me that one of the new bbc freesat boxes will be the better option presuming such a box could also pick up other free to air channels of choice ?
How long before the new boxes will be on the shelf ?
All Sky Freesatchannels will be on the BBC/ITV Freesat system and vice-versa. There will be a range of BBC/ITV Freesat boxes from simple set-top boxes to hybrid PVR/DVD burner devices. "Next Spring" we are told.
We dont know yet if all the other channels(non sky) 4 &,5, film4,news channels etc ets that are now free on on the sky system will be also free on freesat from the bbc yet or do we ? will the new freesat box pick up all free to air services also ?
william: Film4 is already on Freesat. Channel 4 and five have given their agreement in principle to stop encrypting when their contracts with Sky finish. *ALL* existing Freesat channels will be watchable via the BBC/ITV system.
Do you we know if Freesat will be able to be picked up with a normal Sky mini dish? Though I guess, if a HD decoder boxes alone are going for around £200 and if BBC prices close to Sky's £150 Freesat, it would still be a cheaper option.
Panita: The signals will be on the same Astra 1D satellites that the service currently uses. You will be able to purchase DVB-S equipment for the price you can right now - £80 for the box, dish and satellite finder. Expect prices to drop and also subscription-free PVRs.
Thx, on a related note, when do you think that HDTVs in the UK will start selling with integrated HD tuners as in the US? Surely a matter of time.
And when do you think Virgin and Sky will have to start giving out HD digi-boxes as standard?
Panita: As there is no defined standard for terrestrialHD transmission, no one is going to sell a set that can recieve it... Remember that NTSC was a very poor transmission standard in the US, so ATSC replacement was urgently required.
Its nearly August ,If freesat boxes are going to be on the shop shelves for next spring you would think the Manufacture process would now be at full swing operation,
There should be more information on their design, make, look record options, etc and possible price
I don't understand what difference this new service is going to make to someone who already watches free to air satellite TV. People keepo talking about channel 4 and 5 going free to air and HDTV being available on more channels. Is this all the difference? I currently don't have satellite TV, but have been considering it for some time because my freeview reception is poor. What will be my disadvantage when Freesat launches if I buy satellite equipment now to watch the current free to air satellite channels? Will I have to adjust the dish?
I would be delighted to buy a HD/STB/Satdish to be able to receive BBC/ITV/CH4 in HD - but I don't want to be
in hock to SKY and it's 300 rubbish/repeat channels.My 8th gen Pioneer and I just want to know when the Beeb will get it on and I suppose that goes for most of us who have bought HD ready TV's.HD is a truly stunning experience and should be well worth the cost of set top box capable of receiving it so long as we don't have to pay SKY every month for the pleasure.
David Haworth: I can't help thinking that with BSkyB buying part of ITV that this might not happen .. again. I understand that BSkyB got the "advanced record" feature of the BBC iPlayer removed by moaning about the use of THEIR internet service... which renders it less useful than the Sky EPG... strange that. Perhaps Ofcom should be saying that the internet is not restricted like that and strike down the objection... why the BBC and not YouTube?
... Basically Sky as an ISP should not have the right to object about the provision of an internet service because of a commercial consideration by another part of it's business. The internet is supposed to be a COMMON place that is for all the users - the people who pay for an internet service - regardless of the content. If this has happened then there is a complete failure of regulation from Ofcom here. In particular if Ofcom has agreed to the objection in writing! I reallyhope that BSkyB would not claim that "because the service is free then we can stop it being the internet and become NewsCorpNet?"
David Robinson Tuesday 11 September 2007 10:59AM Nottingham
"Sky have in the past invalidated the existing cards and demanded payment for a new one from Freesat users. Last time Sky did this the telephone number that was provided told customers that they must subscribe and misled callers telling them no replacement cards were available!"
This is not quite historically accurate - the last (and only) time that Sky Digital has replaced its smartcards unfortunately coincided with the BBC ceasing to supply cards as they were now FTA. Sky did not 'mislead' customers - replacement FTV cards really WERE not available!
ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, which up to that point had had a free ride on the back of the BBC supplied cards, suddenly found that they had to pull their weight, which they refused to do. Hence for a prolonged period these channels were only available on satellite by subscribing. This fiasco only ended when Sky launched their Freesat and began selling FTV cards.