BBC and ITV launch Freesat

The BBC and ITV have today (May 6) launched their joint venture free-to-air digital satellite service, Freesat. The venture will rival BSkyB’s existing ‘Freesat from Sky’ service, which is ramping up its retail marketing to compete.

Freesat will offer up to 200 channels by the end of the year, including high definition services, BBC HD and ITV HD. It will offer a more comprehensive service than Freeview, which airs on the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform and has limited capacity.

The Freesat set top box will cost £49 with a high definition box available from £120 and installation will cost around £80. The service will be able to reach 98% of UK households and involves no subcription or contract.

Sky’s offer, which it markets as “Pay once, watch forever”, is now on sale at for £75 although previously cost £150. It includes installation and four months of four Sky TV mixes in addition to up to 200 free-to-air channels.

Freesat managing director, Emma Scott, says the launch marks a “landmark” for digital TV in the UK, which will bring free HD programmes “to everyone”.

She adds: “With more than 9.6 million HD-ready televisions already sold in the UK, but only a tiny fraction of those who own them currently able to receive HD programmes, there’s a big opportunity for Freesat to lead the way in introducing the UK to high definition viewing.”

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