Freesat is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV plc to provide a consumer-orientated free-to-air satellite reception service. Freesat does not provide any television or radio channels itself; instead it markets the channels and receiver equipment and co-ordinates the provision on an electronic programme guide.
Is Freesat linked to Freeview?
One of the conditions of the BBC Trust approving Freesat was that there must be no linkage between Freeview (which markets digital television though and rooftop aerial) and Freesat. BBC Trust - "Freesat" closed consultation
Is this a new service?
Only partially. When direct-to-home satellite services launched in Europe, they were all free. Over time some of these services became subscription, enforced by encryption systems that rendered the signals unwatchable without an appropriate decoder box and subscription card.
When, in 1998, the digital satellite services started, many of the formally free to air channels became subscription services. This originally included those from the BBC and ITV, who mistakenly believed they had to encrypt. However, many channels realised that they did not need to pay Sky Subscriber Services Ltd (SSSL) to simply appear on the Sky Digital Electronic Programme Guide (EPG).
The Office of Fair Trading ( OFT), part of the British Government has always required Sky to provide a free-to-air alternative, and this is known as Freesat From Sky ( fSfS). The OFT understood that SSSL was positioning itself as a gatekeeper to the whole of digital satellite television, and fSfS was required as a market intervention because Sky dominates the pay television market.
Sky has blown hot and cold over fSfS since 1999. At some points it has been happy to market the scheme, at others it has almost hidden it away. Today, the majority of those using fSfS (around a million homes) do so because they have let their Sky subscriptions lapse. When the BBC withdrew from using SSSL encoding during 200X, Sky took the opportunity to cancel all the fSfS cards, and provided messages to the users that erroneously informed them that they had to subscribe once more to continue with their satellite television.
The idea of a BBC Freesat service has been floated for many years. It has always been known that there are going to be a proportion of homes in the UK where terrestrial digital reception will be over-expensive or have limited reception, even after digital switch-over is complete. In addition there are some people who do not wish to have a service, even a free one provided by a News Corporation company, often because of antipathy towards the American owner, Rupert Murdoch.
Since 1998, all UK direct-to-home satellite television broadcasts have used satellites in the 28.2 degrees East orbital position the satellites are in geostationary orbit (they appear stationary from the ground) above the equator 35,786 km over Democratic Republic of Congo (shown on the map below).
There are now five satellites: four belong to SES Astra, a Luxembourg company; the other belongs to the HotBird consortium. Each satellite has a number of different transmitters (known as transponders) which these companies hire out on long-term contracts. Four of the satellites can easily be viewed from most of Northern Europe with a small (60cm) satellite dish, the other has a reception area (called a footprint) focused on the British Isles.
The transponders are listed here. You can see that many have been restricted to Sky subscribers, but many are free-to-air.
What channels are on Freesat?
BBC One (101), BBC Two (102), ITV1 (103), C4 / S4C in Wales (104), BBC Three (106), BBC Four (107), BBC HD (108), ITV2 (113), ITV3 (115), ITV3+1 (116), ITV4 (117), S4C Digidol / C4 in Wales (120), E4 (122), More4 (124), Zone Romantica (135),
Zone Thriller (137) .
News and Sport (200-299)
True Movies (302),
True Movies2 (303),
Wedding TV (402) ,
Overseas Property Channel (411),
Men and Motors (450).
Chartshow TV (500),
The Vault (501),
Bubble Hits (503),
B4U Music (504),
BBC Radio 1 (700),
1Xtra BBC (701),
BBC Radio 2 (702),
BBC Radio 3 (703),
BBC Radio 4 FM (704),
BBC Radio 4 LW (705),
BBC Radio Five Live (706),
BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra (707),
BBC 6 Music (708),
BBC 7 (709),
BBC Asian Network (710),
BBC World Service (711),
BBC Radio Scotland (712),
BBC Radio nan Gaidheal (713),
BBC Radio Wales (714),
BBC Radio Cymru (715),
BBC Radio Ulster (716),
BBC London 94.9 (718).
Price Drop TV (801),
Bid TV (802),
Pitch TV (803),
JML Lifestyle (810)
Regional (950-999) also accessible via BBC One/BBC Two
BBC One London (950),
BBC One Channel Islands (951),
BBC One East (W) (954),
BBC One Northern Ireland (957),
BBC One Scotland (960),
BBC One Wales (964),
BBC Two England (968),
BBC Two Northern Ireland (969),
BBC Two Scotland (970),
BBC Two Wales (971).
ITV regionals accessed via ITV1 London (not listed separately)
STV Scottish East,
STV Scottish West,
ITV1 Border England,
ITV1 Central West,
ITV1 Anglia East,
STV Grampian North.
"Channel 5 and some other channels are not available at launch"
five, five Life (aka Fiver), five US
UKTV History, Dave, Virgin 1,
NOT expected but not yet confirmed channels
Sky Three, Sky Sports News
TMF, The Hits
BBC Asian Network,
BBC Radio 1,
BBC Radio 2,
BBC Radio 3,
BBC Radio 4,
BBC Radio 5 Live,
BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra,
BBC Radio 6 Music,
BBC Radio 7,
BBC Radio Cymru,
BBC Radio Foyle,
BBC Radio nan Gaidheal,
BBC Radio Scotland,
BBC Radio Ulster,
BBC Radio Wales,
BBC World Service,
Smash Hits! Radio,
smooth fm ,
The Hits Radio,
BBC Radio 4 LW,
BBC Radio London.
Freesat is intended for UK reception, however the signals do cover a larger area, due to the nature of satellite transmission. Please click on the 'footprint' maps for more details.
How much will it cost?
Argos - www.argos.co.uk is already listing a number of boxes, such as those shown below.
The installation charge (including dish) is listed as 80 - and their 'installers will call within 48 hours to arrange a convenient date for set up and installation of your Freesat equipment and satellite dish.' - also they say to 'refer to leaflet inside Freesat digital box for more information', see Buy Single Freesat Installation. at Argos.co.uk
Argos are currently showing a 50 and 70 SD box, and a 120 and 150 HD box. All models have 'LAN port for connection to broadband, for faster return path when accessing Freesat digital interactive services.'
Other stores are available.
Do I need a card or to plug the box into a telephone line?
No, and no. But you CAN connect some boxes to your internet router to access additional material online. Access to the BBC iPlayer will start shortly on Freesat..
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.
Marie Sunday 30 December 2012 4:45PM
We live in Portugal and our 12 year old digi box has stopped working. Because of the changes that are about to occur with the satellitereception we do not want to buy an expensive box. Will any digi box connect to our satellite or do we have to buy a Sky box? At the moment we do not pay any subscription for our sky card. We do not particularly want Sky plus as we have a dvd recorder with a hard drive.
Don't know but obviously it only happens with the earlier programmes - and usually happens after an ad break.
I mention Humax because that's where the signal comes from. Didn't think about the TV which is a Pioneer Plasma-still good!
Should also ask my technical advisor(son).
ian from notts Monday 7 January 2013 6:57AM Nottingham
david harworth, not sure why it continually switches but if you can, use the picture options menu on both the tv and humax,
try to set the display to 16/9 instead of auto.
this should stop them both looking for the 4/3 option during older programmes ?
Hi, I'm getting a new hdtv soon and notice that most of them come with freeview built in. However i have freesat and no freeview aerial, can u turn off the freeview feature and plug in the freesat box or will this cause problems?