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All about Freesat

Everything you ever wanted to know about Freesat but were too afraid to ask...

Everything you ever wanted to know about Freesat but were too a
published on UK Free TV
FREESAT LAUNCHED AT 12:30pm ON 6TH MAY 2008 - UPDATE - read about it here - Freesat Launch: brilliant for everyone -

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)

Interactive (900-949)


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) 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 channels

Sky Three, Sky Sports News TMF, The Hits

Radio stations

1Xtra 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 -

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 - 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 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 - 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 -

Can I share a dish?

Yes, but you need a quad- LNB. For more information see: Freesat reception - all about dishes -

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 description

Subtitles: 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?
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

Monday, 5 August 2013
joan brookes
6:06 PM

why can i not receive itv player?

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joan brookes's 1 post GB flag

9:47 PM

joan brookes: Are you getting your Iplayer via a Freesat box (like a Humax) or through your TV?

The new Humax Freesat boxes should have ITV player (4oD and Five are apparently coming), but the older Foxsat only has Iplayer (as far as I'm aware).

If its through your TV, then only Samsung currently has all four on demand services via TV, blu-ray or PVR. There is a rumour that the Samsung exclusivity might end this month - it thats true, then I'd be surprised is the other brands didn't roll out an app fairly quickly for ITV and the other channels. However, its just a rumour, I've found nothing to confirm it yet.

Obviously You View boxes have all four services, and the Humax T2 just has Iplayer.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
2:04 PM

I have a rooftop aerial and two leads which come from the outside satellite dish, one which looks like an aerial and the other which screws in to my old sky box - no sky subscription anymore. My t.v. has freeview in it. Can i buy a freesat box and use the satellite aerial and my existing old sky satellite dish to view freesat programmes

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Marie's 1 post GB flag

2:11 PM

Marie: Yes, you can, but you can only watch Freesat, in the same way you you could only watch Sky, because there is only one cable coming from the dish. If you wanted, you could just use the old Sky box

See here for more info - its the most popular question on the site - Can I stop paying Sky and use my satellite receiver to get Freeview ? | - 11 years of independent, free digital TV advice

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag

7:22 PM

To clarify, the lead(s) from the satellite dish will have the screw-on connectors whilst the terrestrial Freeview aerial will probably have a push-in connector. So, have you got one lead from the satellite dish plus one lead from the rooftop aerial, or do you have two leads from the dish plus one from the aerial? If you had Sky+ then you should have two leads from the dish that were screwed into the back of the Sky box.
You can either use the Sky box to get Freesat, but check with the link MikeB provided and you will not be able to use the Sky box to record. Or you could buy a dedicated FreeSat box. The rooftop aerial lead should go into the aerial socket on the back of your TV set to give Freeview signals.

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB flag
Sunday, 13 October 2013
5:21 PM

will a normal hard drive recorder work ie can i use scart to scart or do i have to purchase a freesat recorder.

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wayne's 1 post GB flag
Monday, 14 October 2013
Neil Bell

12:27 PM

Wayne If by normal you mean a terrestrial or Freeview recorder then no it wont work on its own. To receive satellite programmes you need a satellite tuner in a recorder, set top box or TV. You can use a Freesat satellite set top box and record programmes on a Freeview recorder connected by Scart lead and using an AV input instead of the internal tuner but you have to set both machines separately. Much better is to get a twin tuner Freesat recorder so you can set recordings from an EPG and watch a second programme at the same time.

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Neil Bell's 106 posts GB flag

8:59 PM

Further to what Neil has said, if you want to record Freeview or FreeSat and your receiver has a SCART socket the Freeview or FreeSat receiver may output the selected programme's audio and video via the scart. That can then be fed to the SCART input of your recorder - assuming it has one.
It would help if you told us the make and model of the 'hard drive recorder' you mention as they vary considerably. It would also help if you tell us what Freeview and/or FreeSat receiver you have, then we can look up the relevant technical data.

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB flag

10:32 PM

Wayne: Further to the excellent advice from Neil Bell & MikeP, pretty much the only recorders around that can do this are the DVD/HDD ones from Panasonic (the EX773, EX83, etc), and they are largely being withdrawn - certainly I havn't seen one instore for a while. HD recorders tend not to even have scarts, and even when they do, you cannot vary the input to include scarts.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
Thursday, 22 May 2014
2:57 PM

Please help technology passed me by I don't won't to pay sky any more so I'm thinking of freesat or free view but I don't no whats the best box to get I won't to recalled program's I have the old sky dish will that be enough or do I have to get a aerial if you can help me it would be much appreciated

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Annie's 1 post GB flag
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