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BBC/ITV Freesat - Spring 08

The BBC/ITV service will provide a high definition "guaranteed non-subscription" digital satellite service.

The BBC/ITV service will provide a high definition  guaranteed
published on UK Free TV
Main article: All about Freesat - - launch update - Freesat Launch: brilliant for everyone -

We've been reporting about BBC Freesat since early 2006

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.

The BBC and ITV Freesat service will also provide an alternate (but compatible) electronic programme guide (EPG), and will provide interactive services.

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:

  1. a box-swap replacement to upgrade an existing Freesat from Sky or Sky subscription box for a box with HDTV services;
  2. a box-swap replacement for a Sky+ box for a HDTV satellite personal video recorder;
  3. a multi-room installation with an existing dish fitted with a quad-LNB;
  4. 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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Sky News is broadcast free-to-air.

Help with Free satellite?
What can I do when my Sky Digibox says 'No Signal' or 'Technical fau1
Can I receive UK TV in Ghana?2
What is a CA module?3
My box says "No Satellite signal being received"4
Is there any way I can get free channels via satellite and have the kind of hard5
In this section
Freesat adds a plethora of new channels in time for Christmas including channel 1
A tale of a two Freesat boxes2
Yesterday, Drama and Really joining Freesat this month3
PBS America joins Freesat for Halloween4
Fixing the Freesat Freetime internet connection problem5
Satellite TV operators FRANSAT, TIVUSAT and our Freesat launch FreeTV Alliance 6

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

3:27 PM

Frank Croom: Have you rung 0800 40 85 900?

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Friday, 4 March 2011
Les Nicol

8:34 PM

Bran - Have yo seen this?

Freesat G2: DiSEqC, single cable PVR and more hybrid TV
Alex Lane - Thu, 03/03/2011 - 12:00pm

Freesat's next-generation G2 spec will include DiSEqC, single cable routing and core support for iPlayer-style hybrid TV services.

In the works for more than a year, G2 is set to bring Freesat some features we've been looking forward to for some time.

It's essentially a gathering of new standards which will be supported by the wave of digital TV chipsets expected from manufacturers like ST and Broadcom in the next 12 months.

James Strickland, Freesat's director of product and technology development, explained that G2 is similar to HbbTV, the European standard which combines both broadcast and broadband-delivered TV technology.

'If you see what's going on with HbbTV in Germany, that's a roll-up of all the standards work that's been going on with different bodies.

'G2 is basically a hybrid between HbbTV and the MHEG world we have in the the UK.

'You get the best out of all the international standards that all the manufacturers are working on, rather than rolling out our own.

'We want to encourage in the next generation all the best elements that are already being worked on, to get the best hybrid of broadcast and broadband TV.'

There's no launch date yet for the G2 spec or G2 products, although some - like Samsung's forthcoming Freesat HD box - will be upgradeable via software downloads.

Some manufacturers, like Panasonic, are waiting for the G2 spec to be ready before they launch new Freesat products.

Exact details of what's in G2 only come with some direct questioning at this stage, but we did discover that it will include:

* MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) support, which potentially enables a whole host of advanced media streaming and multiroom features that manufacturers might use.
* Single cable routing as part of the MoCA standard (Multimedia over Coax Alliance). SCR lets a PVR take multiple tuner feeds through a single cable, but so far there have been several competing methods.
* DiSEqC switching, as part of SCR. Only switching,however, there's no DiSEqC 1.2 for motorised sat.
* HTML, Javascript and CSS: internet technologies that should make it a lot easier to add broadband-delivered interactive services.
* DRM for non-subscription channels who want some sort of encryption, via broadband or broadcast.
* Payment mechanisms for broadband services like LoveFilm.

'It will be easier to write apps and easier to launch online services,' adds Strickland. 'The barriers to entry, the time and the cost of launching new services, will be less than they are currently on other platforms and on this platform. It's not just about the receiver, it's about a whole end to end thing.

'The core of the technology is internet-based technology. Use of new presentation environments like HTML, Javascript, and CSS that come from the internet, that now we can apply to STB technology.

'And not for pay-TV but for free-to-air TV, we are making it easier for people to put their content on the platform by promoting certain DRM elements. It can easily be for free-to-air content, free to the user within the platform, but not necessarily pay-TV.

'We are still very cautious about pay-TV and the effect it would have on the platform if we were to allow any pay-TV services on board. It's a watching brief, and they would be complementary service.

'The potential is there for services like LoveFilm to come to the platform and it's not there today. If you had something like LoveFilm, to be able to transfer your account to the main screen from the PC, that would make sense.'

From Wotsat

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag
Saturday, 5 March 2011

6:52 PM

Les Nicol: Yes, thanks for that.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Les Nicol

6:57 AM

Brian - Echostar taking pre-orders from today for their "Freesat"/Slingbox receiver launching 1/4/2011

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag
Les Nicol

7:01 AM

P>S> Samsung's PVR also said to be available from Lasky's and Comet

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag
Saturday, 26 March 2011
Les Nicol

8:21 AM

Freesat confirms NHK World HD on this platform in May.

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 30 March 2011

3:55 PM

Les Nicol: Thanks for those, I think I managed to get the into the Newsbucket on the day.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Les Nicol

8:57 AM

Brian - Yet another manufacturer enters the "Freesat" market. Obviously this presumes increasing confidence with Freesat. "Strong" are coming in eith a DTR receiver which will be "Thomson" branded.

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 11 May 2011

6:03 PM

Les Nicol: Thomson didn't make very good Top Up TV boxes, but let's keep our fingers crossed for a good Freesat offering.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Friday, 13 May 2011
Les Nicol

8:47 AM

Brian - The info I have is that "Strong" are a Japanese manufacturer, but it could be that they are producing all of the "Thompson" branded receivers including those made in the past. Sometimes it's difficult to know who is the parent company these days as they could either be a part of the one outfit or as in the automotive industry share plants and manufacturing facilities. Certainly in the past "Strong" used to produce reasonable quality receivers.

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Les Nicol's 991 posts GB flag
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