UK - Freesat launches today

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008 
Freesat logo

Free digital television and HD for everyone – no subscription, no contract; BBC HD available now and ITV HD to launch exclusively on Freesat

Freesat, the new, free, digital satellite television service launches today, Tuesday 6 May 2008. Freesat is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV.

Reaching almost all of the UK (98% of households), Freesat has over 80 free digital channels – television, radio, interactive – plus high definition (HD) services from the BBC and ITV.

Freesat has no subscription and no contract; all that is required to receive it is a one-off payment for equipment.

Freesat’s channel line-up will grow each month, with up to 200 channels on air by the end of the year.

Emma Scott, Managing Director, Freesat, said: “Today is a landmark day for digital TV in the UK – the launch of a new digital satellite service which brings free HD programmes to everyone.

“With more than 9.6 million HD-ready televisions already sold in the UK, but only a tiny fraction of those who own them currently able to receive HD programmes, there’s a big opportunity for Freesat to lead the way in introducing the UK to high definition viewing.”

Freesat’s initial channel line-up includes some of the most popular digital TV channels: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four; ITV1, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4; Channel 4, E4, More4 and Film4; news channels BBC News and Al-Jazeera English; children’s channels CBBC, CBeebies and CiTV; music channels Chartshow TV and The Vault; interactivity from BBCi; digital radio; and the superlative picture quality of BBC HD and ITV HD.

Freesat will carry the BBC HD channel from day one, with ITV HD launching exclusively on Freesat soon afterwards.

Michael Grade, Executive Chairman, ITV plc, said: “The launch of Freesat is the final piece in the digital jigsaw and will ensure that all viewers in the UK have access to free-to-air digital and high definition television.

“We will launch our HD service with an unrivalled line-up of premium football including the FA Cup, England internationals and UEFA Champions League from next season.

“Now everyone in the UK can experience the benefits of digital television: more choice of channels, interactivity and the extraordinary picture quality of HD.”

Mark Thompson, Director-General, BBC, said: “With the launch of Freesat, all the BBC’s digital channels, including BBC HD, will now be available to all licence fee payers wherever they live and however they choose to access them.

“This means they will have yet another way to watch a fantastic range of BBC output, from landmark dramas and world-class documentaries to national events and live sport.”

Freesat equipment

Freesat will have three different types of receiver: a standard definition box, an HD box and an HD integrated digital TV with Freesat built-in (IDTV).

Boxes are made by Goodmans, Bush, Grundig (the Alba Group) and Humax. The IDTV is made by Panasonic and will be available in June.

Box prices will start from £49, with a high definition box available from £120, plus installation costs from around £80. (Installation includes the satellite dish).

Later this summer Alba and Humax digital television recorders will also be available so viewers can record, pause, rewind and fast forward their favourite TV programmes.

Freesat has its own seven-day on-screen electronic programme guide (EPG) and a channel guide so that viewers can easily find the programmes they want.

Where to get Freesat equipment and installation

Freesat is available in shops and online from major high street outlets Argos, Comet, Currys and John Lewis, plus some independent retailers.

Retailers sell equipment and can also arrange installation by approved installers.