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Satellite TV operators FRANSAT, TIVUSAT and our Freesat launch FreeTV Alliance

Three leading European free-to-air satellite TV operators - Fransat (France), Freesat (UK), and Tivùsat (Italy) - have come together to form the FreeTV Alliance.

Aim to standardise services and technologies and promote economies of scale  Photograph: Shutterstock
Aim to standardise services and technologies and promote economies of scale Photograph: Shutterstock
published on UK Free TV

In the first collaboration of its kind, formed on 12th September 2014, the Alliance aims to promote the harmonisation of satellite TV services and technology across Europe. This will help drive the continuing rollout of compelling free-to-view satellite TV, benefitting viewers, manufacturers, broadcasters, retailers and service providers.

FRANSAT

Eutelsat subsidiary Fransat is a simple and fast solution for subscription-free satellite reception of France's 25 DTT channels of which 10 broadcast in HD, as well as additional local and thematic channels and radio stations. Fransat also enables access to a la carte pay TV services. In addition, Fransat recently launched its interactive portal called "Fransat Connect" that provides viewers with a wide range of interactive services including an advanced programme guide, infotainment, access to catch-up services and video on demand, and including a companion screen application. Today received by 2 million TV sets, Fransat is broadcast in France via the EUTELSAT 5 West A satellite located at 5° West.

TIVUSAT

Tivusat, the Italian free satellite TV service, was launched July 31, 2009 and gives access to all the national mainstream television channels (Rai Uno, Rai Due, Rai Tre, Canale 5, Italia 1, Rete 4, La 7), the new thematic digital channels (both national and local), a large selection of the most popular international channels, and a wide number of radio channels (both national and international). Via Tivusat HD set-top-boxes and iDTVs, viewers can also access a wide range of non-linear services, such as Rai Replay, Rewind, La7 On Demand (Rai, Mediaset and La7 catch-up services), Infinity, the new Mediaset movies and TV series OTTV service, and Cubovision, the Telecom Italia video-on- demand and OTTV service. Tivusat, which so far has more than 2.2 million activated smart cards and currently reaches over 1.8 million households, is owned by Tivu S.r.l., a joint venture between Rai, Mediaset, Telecom Italia Media, Confindustria Radio TV, and Aeranti Corallo.

FreeTV Alliance

The satellite TV operators have formed the FreeTV Alliance to make it easier and more economical for manufacturers to develop innovative new products and to assist broadcasters and content providers to deploy advanced hybrid TV services combining satellite reception and IP based interactivity. To achieve these goals, the Alliance will produce common recommendations and specifications based on open standards that will apply across set-top boxes and smart TVs in the European market. The FreeTV Alliance members will also work together to establish preferred technologies and common understandings for multiscreen TV solutions.

Announcing the launch of the Alliance at IBC 2014, Alberto Sigismondi, CEO of Tivusat and the first Chair of the FreeTV Alliance, said: "Until now, the major free-to-view satellite TV operators have focussed on building a business within their national boundaries. As the TV and consumer electronics industries become increasingly globalised, now is the right time for us to work together to ensure free-to-view satellite remains at the forefront of the television market.

"The FreeTV Alliance's priorities include providing concrete help, support and advice to manufacturers so they can more easily include satellite technology into their devices, which in turn will allow operators to offer an even more competitive service to consumers. We will be able to combine our collective resources to deliver the best customer experience whilst minimising costs to manufacturers and so act as a collective group to agree upon common standards and features."

The FreeTV Alliance's objective is to remove technology complexities, and help manufacturers to drive innovation and create better television services for European satellite free TV viewers. The founding members of the alliance are highly experienced in delivering quality television services in their home countries, both across linear and on- demand viewing. In addition they all have long histories of working directly with consumer electronics manufacturers to provide consumers with a range of high quality devices that deliver a superior customer viewing experience.

To learn more about the FreeTV Alliance please go to FreeTV Alliance - to promote the harmonisation of satellite TV services and technologies across Europe.

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Comments
Sunday, 21 September 2014
M
michael
sentiment_satisfiedGold

7:52 PM

At first sight this could be a progressive move, but I see no indication that the EU will graciously permit us free-to-view television from Free-TV-Alliance countries with one receiver and without registration and viewing-card restrictions. Reading between the waffle-lines it would seem that the scheme is intended primarily to benefit manufacturers through cost-reducing equipment standardisation. Early days, but let us hope the vision is indeed wider and develops in the spirit of European integration.

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michael's 854 posts GB
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
M
Michael, too
sentiment_satisfiedBronze

10:44 PM

Michael,
I'm too tech-unaware to understand fully what you're getting at (perhaps you could elaborate for readers like me), but I'll use this opportunity to make the comment that occurred to me while reading the article: I assume that there has been coast-to-coast <i>terrestrial</i> TV in the States (+Canada, maybe) for decades, with a plethora of broadcasters, so why has there not been even the slightest hint of this for Europe? Is it because, as you suggest, there is money in it for the satellite businesses and none for terrestrial provision? Or are there technical reasons?

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Michael, too's 38 posts GB
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

10:57 PM

Michael, too: Think just how many different countries and lanaguages there are in Europe. Unless you can broadcast in one language, using material which is cleared for all nations, how exactly is that going to work?

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
M
Michael, too
sentiment_satisfiedBronze

11:39 PM

I simply meant having their terrestrial broadcasts available here. We could be like my fellow- students in France decades ago, who were mostly from Luxemburg, who could get broadcasts from their neighbours across their several borders and, besides their mother-tongue, could all at least understand French, German and English. I first saw the blockbuster "The Longest Day" in a cinema there, which enhanced realism by having the French, German, Russian and English (and - it was a long time ago - perhaps other) characters speak their own languages but wasn't subtitled. There was more foreign language material on TV in the several other European countries I spent time in than there is in UK, and especially England
Multilingual TV would have been very good for the 100s of Modern Language students I taught in my lifetime.

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Michael, too's 38 posts GB
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
M
michael
sentiment_satisfiedGold

9:22 PM

My initial inference was that the Alliance appears designed to enable manufacturers to standardise receiver parameters. The benefit would accrue to manufacturers, not to viewers. Each national broadcaster would continue to implement its current restrictive viewing policies, eg Tivu in Italy and TNTSAT and FRANSAT in France, which each require a dedicated receiver with free viewing card registered to a legal domicile in the target country. This would continue to be contrary to fundamental EU principles. Copyright issues are frequently quoted, but Brussels shows no interest in enforcing free movement of goods and *services* to television. Nevertheless, the Alliance should be observed in the hope that some benefit to viewers in all member-states of the EU might ensue.

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michael's 854 posts GB
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

10:36 PM

michael: Certain manufacturers, like Sony and LG, actually have sat. tuners in their TV's which are designed to be 'pan-european'. Any standisation would obviously make sense to them, to reduce costs. Reduced costs might even filter down to the consumer.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
M
michael
sentiment_satisfiedGold

11:22 PM

MikeB. Agreed : "Reduced costs might even filter down to the consumer" - "might" being the operative word. Kinda like fuel prices on the forecourt :-) But it would be nice. As said, the Alliance is not revealing much yet. Are there TV sets (or boxes) in the EU which equally accept a Tivu, FranSat, TNTSAT etc card (once registered)? I assume this is the Alliance plan. It would be "nice" if there were one card available to all EU citizens for reception of FTA terrestrial services which are also broadcast by satellite. Paid subscription services are, of course, a different world.

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michael's 854 posts GB
Thursday, 25 September 2014
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

11:25 AM

michael: TV manufacturers have never been more competative, so anything that allows greater economies of scale would be welcomed by them, and its likely that prices would been influenced, if only to a very small degree.

I'm not familiar with all the different European systems, but if they could have a standard sat. tuner using either software or a cam card, then that would make life easier for everyone.

Ironically, when it comes to paid subscription services, there is one pan european system - Sky!

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

11:26 AM

Although to be fair, even Sky is split into different countries. So if Murdoch can't make one huge market, then what chance do the rest of us have!

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
MikeP
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

1:07 PM

michael, too:

In your comments of Tuesday 23rd, you allude to an assumption of coast to coast broadcasting. There has been analogue transmissions across both the whole of Europe and North America, as well as other continents, for many years - but each country has enjoyed programming aimed at just that country, or state in North America. In the USA, there were and still are many local TV broadcasters aiming to provide for their local community. These have now been superceded by digital transmissions in most cases but still with the aim being to serve local communities. In the USA, such broadcasts are on a fully commercial basis plus a PSB provision that is somewhat 'patchy' in the less urban areas.
In Europe, each country has its own range of services that include PSB and COM provision.
There is no way to prevent a UHF signal from crossing borders between countries or states (in the USA for example) so some areas that are near enough to a neighbouring country/state may be able to view programming aimed at other viewers.
An 'access controlled' service, such as Sky TV, can control to a large extent where the service can be viewed - but there are always those who will take, for example, a UK card with them to France or Germany, etc.

In the main, the differences between North American and European provision is because of the way the services developed. In Europe a lot of the earlier provision was of a public service form with commercial businesses joining in later. In North America is has been very much the other way round with commercial enterprise being the largest provision with public service channels joining much later. In the UK, BBC started regular transmissions for London in 1936 (with a break during WWII) and ITV started in 1954 (differing by region) on a fully commercial basis. The change to digital transmission does not really alter that PSB vs COM pattern.

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MikeP's 3,055 posts GB
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