UK Broadcast Giant Freesat Offers Wide Range Of Programming

FreesatFreesat, launched in 2008, is a very big player in the broadcast business in the United Kingdom. BBC has entered into a joint venture with fellow broadcasting industry behemoth ITV plc to offer this free-to-air service as an attractive option to Freeview which offers a number of channels on its digital terrestrial television service and also to Freesat from Sky.

Freesat offers an impressive array of digital satellite programming thanks to its large capacity, and it also broadcasts HD programmes from a number of popular channels such as Channel 4 and RT UK in addition, needless to say, to the BBC and ITV.

Both the BBC and ITV offer their digital programming through any of three options. Content is available free-to-air via satellite or terrestrial and for a subscription via cable. Both companies used to encrypt their channels initially since they used satellites that broadcast over parts of Europe that they did not have broadcast rights over. UK based customers were therefore required to buy the right equipment in order to view the content.

The BBC’s decision to use a satellite with a narrower footprint that focused on the United Kingdom enabled it to do away with encryption. ITV was also able to do the same and both companies offered their channels free-to-air in 2003. It is possible to receive these channels using a standard digital satellite receiver, preferably one that is licensed by Freesat.

Freesat is a very important development in the UK broadcasting business because it provides users with a fully managed service that contains a number of interactive features. There were plans to roll it out in 2006 but delays in approvals meant that it was finally unveiled two years later.

Freesat now offers a wide range of high-definition channels but it initially launched with BBC HD only (this was later replaced by BBC Two). ITV HD was quickly added to it, but only as a “red-button” interactive service. It took about a year for this service to become a full-time channel. BBc followed this up with BBC One HD. Soon, Channel 4 HD and NHK World HD were also added. Additional channels have also been included from time to time, such as during the 2012 London Olympics and the following Paralympics. Freesat continues to get additional channels, with the latest ones being Drama, Yesterday and Really.

Future plans for Freesat include the addition of pay content, especially so that films could be broadcast (as long as they did not have adult content). However, this comes with a stipulation that live streaming of sports would not be permitted. It is understood that this content would be managed by a third party.

Television companies have been quick to offer television sets with in-built HD Freesat receivers. Companies such as Panasonic, LG and Sony offer these television sets in many attractive size options. Interestingly, there is quite a bit of demand for Freesat in Ireland and parts of continental Europe. In fact, Eastern Europeans are also able to capture Freesat’s content since they tend to have very large dishes.

Free-To-View Increasingly Popular In The Broadcast Industry

global comFree-to-view (FTV) is a very commonly used term in the broadcast business. It refers to encrypted transmissions, containing audio or video content, that are provided to users at no charge. People tend to confuse it with free-to-air (FTA), but the difference is that transmission is not encrypted in the latter.

Since free-to-view services are always encrypted, they can only be viewed using special equipment for reception. These include a specific conditional access module as well as a viewing card. However, as the name indicates, the content is available for free. In other words, there is no need to pay a regular subscription to access the channels available on the service. Instead, access to the broadcast content might be available for a one time payment, if it is not offered for free.

It is interesting to note that a few services that offer content for a regular fee come under the category of free-to-view because they charge a fee for the delivery and not for the content. This makes them different from regular pay TV. Germany’s HD+ service is a very good example of this kind of service. It offers a package of popular TV channels in high definition and standard definition with the latter available free-to-view even though there is a service fee. The company claims that the service fee is not related to any particular content, either individually or as a package but to the acceptance of the offer.

Broadcast companies make good use of free-to-view systems especially to offer access to certain content based upon where the viewer is located. In case a satellite broadcasts channels over a wide geographical area that is not covered by programme rights then the broadcast company in question will give its customers viewing cards that will enable them to access the content. Once the companies move to a satellite with a narrow broadcast beam that targets the areas over which it has broadcast rights then it can switch to free-to-air from free-to-view.

ITV was one of the first major broadcast companies to move to free-to-view, but many other companies followed suit. The increasing availability of many satellites that provide a relatively narrow beam has made this possible.

There are quite a few companies that offer broadcast services only for the UK. The best known of these are Sony Entertainment Television and 4Music. While most people have a Sky Videoguard receiver as well as a Sky viewing card to receive them, others have made use of the highly affordable Freesat from Sky package which is available for a one time payment.

One of the most popular free-to-view networks in Europe is Freesat from Sky that offers a bouquet of around 240 TV channels as well as Sky EPG, all of which is available for a one time payment that gives users a satellite dish, receiver, and also cards to install and view the content. German speaking audiences can opt for HD+ whereas French Speaking ones can choose Fransat and Italians can sign up for Tivù Sat.