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How to cut back your TV subscription

One in three pay TV subscribers are thinking of switching to free TV. With Freeview HD on the horizon, free TV has never looked better.

One in three pay TV subscribers are thinking of switching to fr
published on UK Free TV

"The survey of 2,500 consumers, conducted by YouGov for Callcredit Marketing Solutions ... found that 18% are planning to cut back on pay-TV services provided by broadcasters such BSkyB and Virgin Media, with a further 18% saying they are thinking of cancelling their TV subscription altogether", reports UK consumers 'watching their spending on print subscriptions and pay-TV' - Media - .

If you are among the one in three who are thinking of going for free digital TV, you may be considering your options - and timing may be critical.

Sky subscribers

If you have been a Sky subscriber, your easiest free option is to simply cancel your account with Sky. Call them on 0800 0468857 and ask them to cancel all of your subscription as soon as possible.

As with all cancellations, you should cancel the direct debit to the company from your bank. Normally you would do this online, but a one-line letter to the bank is sufficient, or usually a phone call.

Once your subscription is over the box will only show the free-to-air channels, see the fSfS (Freesat from Sky) list at All free-to-watch channels - - these include all the public service channels.

There are quite a few channels that are on Freeview and Sky subscription that are not free on satellite, such as 4Music, Dave, Dave ja vu, Sky Sports News, Virgin, Virgin+1 and Yesterday. If you want these channels, you may be able to add a Freeview box for less than twenty pounds.

If you have a HD Ready (High Definition) television, but did not upgrade to Sky+HD, you may find that Upgrading from Sky to Freesat is a good option. Follow these instructions (but use an HDMI cable), the box cost around one hundred pounds.

Sky+ subscribers

If you use Sky+, if you terminate your contract with Sky, as above, you will no longer be able to use the play and record functions on the box. However, you can simply swap the box for a Freesat+ box (in HD). This will be a few-hundred pounds one-off cost, with no recurring charges.

Another option is to continue to pay Sky ten pounds a month for the use of the recorder facilities, but with the free channels.

Sky+HD subscriber

Currently the BBC HD channel will continue to function if you cancel your subscription, and you will have no record or playback features. In this case, if you can live with just BBC and ITV HD for the moment, swapping a Sky+HD box for a Freesat+ HD box is straightforward.

Freeview HD

Freeview HD will launch on 2 November 2009. This date is the final switch-over day for the Winter Hill transmitter (serving Manchester) and Crystal Palace (unofficially).

Freeview HD will provide BBC HD, ITV HD, C4 HD/S4C and FIVE HD in 720-line resolution format without needing a satellite dish.

No current equipment can decode the signal yet, so a set-top box will be required. The 720-line picture is two and a half time better than those on standard definition, but half those on Freesat with the 1080-line service.

The good news is every transmitter in the UK will carry Freeview HD. Normally this will be on the last day of switch-over, starting from 2 November 2009. This means that in 2010 Wenvoe, Mendip and Durris all all their relays will have a free HD service.

Also in 2010, Stockland Hill, Calbeck, Caradon Hill will have switched this year, so they get the HD service one year from the last day of the switchover.

This means that for many people, Freeview will have an extra kick from the end of this year. As soon as the receivers arrive and the service starts, if you live in London (tbc), Wales, West and Southwest England, North Scotland, English and Scottish Borders, Manchester and Northwest England you will be able to watch four HD channels using an aerial.

Unofficially in April 2010 the North East (Pontop Pike) and Central Scotland (Black Hill) a Freeview HD will start and continue in May 2010 with Birmingham and the West Midlands plus Leeds and Yorkshire (Emley Moor)

If you are served by Sandy Heath, Belmont, Bilsdale, Divis, Oxford, Rowridge, Hannington, Sudbury, Tacolneston or Waltham there is no news of an early Freeview HD.

Can't get Freeview yet?

Remember that if you tried Freeview and it didn't work, then once digital switchover finishes from your local transmitter, you will need a Freeview box to watch television from it.

If you currently only have four channels from a local relay transmitter, you will only get the public services (and Freeview HD) at switchover. If you can watch FIVE on analogue, you will probably get the full Freeview service at switchover.

The new high-power Freeview service at switchover should also make more channels watchable for people who are currently on the fringes of acceptable Freeview reception. To find out your switchover dates, put your postcode into the box at the top right of this page.

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Monday, 17 January 2011
sandra benson
10:10 AM

I would like to know if it is possible to stop my virgin subscription and be able to get the God TV channel and the basic channels for free. If this is possible please let me know how to do this as I won't have a clue.

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sandra benson's 1 post GB flag
sandra's: mapS's Freeview map terrainS's terrain plot wavesS's frequency data S's Freeview Detailed Coverage

1:41 PM

sandra benson: If you stop subscribing to Virgin, you get nothing.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag
Monday, 24 January 2011
5:11 PM

Hi, i'm thinking about cancelling my sky subscription, i have a sky plus box( my own not from sky)and multiroom. will i still receive channels on both and will i still be able to record channels. also i have broadband and telephone line with sky, would i be able to keep these without having a tv package. thank you.

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Robbo's 2 posts GB flag
Mark Aberfan Aerials

8:40 PM

Hi Robbo,

Sky will turn off your record facility regardless that you paid for your own equipment Im afraid.

Mark Aberfan Aerials

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Mark Aberfan Aerials's 1,059 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 25 January 2011

9:13 AM

Braintist wrote: "If you stop subscribing to Virgin, you get nothing."

I have read on the Digital Spy forums that some people have plugged in TVs with built in DVB-C to a cable feed, and they managed to get all of the BBC channels, C4 & 5 FTA.

I know it would strictly speaking be breach of Virgin Media's terms and conditions to do that, but I suppose as long as you are only recieving FTA channels, you wouldn't be breaking the law.

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Josh's 97 posts GB flag

9:15 AM

Josh: The old Cable TV Act had a "must provide" provision for the public service channels, but this has expired and Virgin are no longer required to do this.

The channels concerned are now encrypted on most Virgin systems, I suppose there might be some systems where they are in the clear, so a DVB-C card would pick them up, but I tried that on the Brighton one and all the multiplexes are encrypted.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag

7:27 PM

Briantist: I've just tried it with my Samsung plasma TV which happens to have a DVB-C tuner built in, and I got all the BBC channels, (apart from HD), CITV, C4 & 5 and a channel that is actually a message warning me that I am using non-standard equipment. I am in the North Lincolnshire region BTW.

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Josh's 97 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 26 January 2011

8:03 AM

Josh: That's interesting, it doesn't happen here.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag

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