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All about Freesat
Brian Butterworth published on UK Free TV
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).
View Larger Map
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?
Entertainment (101-199)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)Movies (300-399) Film4 (300), True Movies (302), True Movies2 (303), Movies4Men (304), Movies4Men2 (306).
Lifestyle (400-499)Wedding TV (402) , Overseas Property Channel (411), Men and Motors (450).
Music (500-599)Chartshow TV (500), The Vault (501), Scuzz (502), Bubble Hits (503), B4U Music (504),
Children (600-649)CBBC (600), CBeebies (601), CiTV (602), POP (603), POPGirl (604), Tiny POP(605).
Special Interest (650-699)Teachers TV (650)
Radio (700-799)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).
Shopping (800-849)QVC (800), Price Drop TV (801), Bid TV (802), Pitch TV (803), JML Lifestyle (810)
Regional (950-999) also accessible via BBC One/BBC TwoBBC 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) Ulster, STV Scottish East, STV Scottish West, ITV1 Wales, ITV1 Border England, ITV1 Central West, ITV1 Granada, ITV1 Anglia East, Channel TV, STV Grampian North."Channel 5 and some other channels are not available at launch"
five, five Life (aka Fiver), five US E4, More4 UKTV History, Dave, Virgin 1, EuroNews,
NOT expected but not yet confirmed channelsSky Three, Sky Sports News TMF, The Hits
Radio stations1Xtra BBC, 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, Heat Radio, Kerrang! Radio, KISS 100, Magic, MOJO Radio, Q Radio, Smash Hits! Radio, smooth fm , The Hits Radio, Heart, talkSPORT, Virgin Radio, BBC Radio 4 LW, BBC Radio London.
Full channel list...To see the whole list: All free-to-watch channels - ukfree.tv
Where can I receive it?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..
Will the picture quality be better than Freeview?Yes, if you have a HD box and connect it to your television using a HDMI connector. See HD and Freesat questions and answers - ukfree.tv for more information.
What about the Interactive channels and text service?The text services on Freesat are in high definition, and are more modern than found on other systems.
Will I be able to use a Personal Video Recorder?Of course, and you will not have to pay a monthly subscription, as is the case with Sky+. They will be in the shops very soon.
How does it connect to my television
A HDMI lead is used to connect your HD box to the HDTV. And note, please do not be fooled into buying an over-priced one, it is a digital connection and will work, or not.
A SCART cable is used for SD reception and for connection to 'leagacy' equipment such as a DVD burner.
For more information see: Connecting it all up - ukfree.tv
Can I share a dish?Yes, but you need a quad- LNB.For more information see: Freesat reception - all about dishes - ukfree.tv
Will there be an electronic programme guide (EPG)The Freesat EPG is independent from the one provided by Sky and includes listings for the radio stations, as with Freeview.
What about subtitles and audio descriptionSubtitles: yes. Audio description: ensure you have a compatible box.
Can I just plug a Freeview box into a dish?No. They are incompatible - do not attempt it, you risk damaging the equipment or getting an electric shock.
Anything missing? Let us know, below...
Help with Free satellite?
In this section
Thursday, 22 May 2014
Annie: If your Sky box is "not" of the Sky+ variety then you will only have one coax lead coming from the dish, therefore is only suitable for use with Freesat receiver box.
If though your Sky box "is" of the Sky+ / Sky+HD variety then you will have two coax cables coming from the dish thereby enabling you to purchase a twin tuner Freesat recorder (PVR) this type of box allowing you to view one programme whilst recording another, or alternatively record two programmes at the same time.
Should you only have one feed coming from the dish and you wish to purchase a Freesat recorder of the type mentioned, then the end piece on the dish where the coax is joined into called the LNB, will have to be changed over to a quad version (twin types no longer supplied) and an additional cable run from same to wherever your box is located.
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Annie : In addition to that said, although you will see a range of "FREESAT" boxes advertised in a variety of places I would advise you to think along the line of the more reliable "Humax" brand devices, one I can personally recommend by it being in constant use without fault in my household for the past three years, namely a "Foxsat - HDR / 500 -G", these managers specials offering excellent value for money along with a one years guarantee.
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Annie, to back up what jb38 says, I know it's a lot of money, but I have a Humax HDR1010 and it is the best bit of electronic equipment I have ever bought.
It's £249 from Humax FREESAT-HDR1010 White | freesat+ G2 Box 1TB Hard Drive PVR | Richer Sounds .
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Annie: You may already have a Freesat/sat tuner hidden in your TV. A lot of older Panasonics had Freesat, and recently its come back into vogue, with higher level Panasonics and mid to high level Samsungs having Freesat tuners. LG's pretty much all seem to have a gerneric sat. tuner from 2013 onwards (although they dont talk about it), and many Sony's are now doing the same. If you have make and model number, we can check. However, just have a look on the back of the set - if its got a screwon fitting like the back of your Sky box, then its got one, and can be used in the same way.
If you want to record and watch - then follow JB38's and Brianists advice - buy something decent - its will seldom be much more expensive that something rubbish, and will be easy to use. Humax is the one I normally recommend. The Humax 1010 is good value at the moment, since at £249, its only £50 more expensive than the 500gb version without wifi - both of those are features which would be worth it for the long term.
If you just want a box to watch (just like your Sky box), customers have given good feedback on this: http://www.johnlewis.com/…1121 - for less than £50 you get Iplayer as well.
Personally, I recommend you take a digital photo of your dish, showing how many connections are currently coming out of it, and go to a proper shop, and ask their advice on buying a box, etc. Humax is the gold standard, but there are others around.
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