There are almost 100 channels on Freesat now, but Emma Scott the Managing Director has recently commented on her disappointment that the service did not launch with the 230 channels that have registered to be included in the service.
Almost all of these channels are already broadcasting free to air on the Astra 2 and Eurobird 1 satellites and form part of the fSfS (Freesat from Sky) and Sky subscription service. For these channels to be provided within the Sky multi-day programme guide, this data has to be included as part of the free-to-air digitalsatellite broadcasts.
The Freesat programme guide is a separate system, and to function the data for this guide has to be added to the existing broadcast. Some of these are on satellite transponders owned by broadcasters (the BBC, ITV and Channel 4), some are occupied though contracts with BSkyB and yet others though third parties.
The satellites belong to SES Astra and Eutelsat; the uplinking is done from Earth Stations owned by Sky (in Southampton) and BT (at Madley and Woolwich). In addition, the multiplexed data is transferred from the broadcasters to the Earth Stations on high capacity data circuits provided by BT and Arqiva.
Freesat told ukfree.tv:
"Due to Sky's position in the satellite TV transmission, Freesat's services have to pass through a Sky-controlled stage. In order for Freesat services to be acceptable to Sky at this stage in the broadcast chain, Sky requires all Freesat services previously to have passed through another technical process, managed by Sky, called 'configuration'. This ensures that the Freesat services' components meet Sky's technical specifications.
For the 'configuration' process, Sky have specified limits on:
the number of services they will configure in a month
the type of services they will configure
the grouping of services by transponder, and
the frequency with which they will work on each transponder.
Freesat is obliged to plan its forward launch schedule within these requirements."
It might therefore seem that that BSkyB are still able to act as the satellite gatekeeper, even for Freesat customers!
Do you think that Sky should be able to control Freesat by doing their 'configuration' slowly?
Perhaps you would like to complain to Ofcom?
If you want to complain to Ofcom please call on 020 7981 3040 or 0300 123 3333.