BBC and ITV to provide free satellite TV in the UK

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Approval has been given to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) by the BBC Trust to go ahead with a proposal that would allow satellite TV to be "subscription free."

Freesat will have no monthly subscription fee, and according to the BBC, the new system would "require a one-off payment for reception equipment."

"Envisaged as a joint venture, Freesat will ensure the public remain in control of how they access the BBC's television channels and radio networks for which they have already paid. It is guaranteed to remain subscription free, ensuring that the benefits of digital television do not equal 'pay television'," said Chitra Bharucha, the acting Chairman of the BBC Trust.

The service will be offered to anyone who is unable to watch digital TV from the current provider, Freeview, which is not available to at least 25% of people in the United Kingdom who watch or have a TV.

"Its [Freesat's] primary purpose is to drive digital take-up in analogue homes, particularly in those areas which are out of digital terrestrial coverage," said Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC.

Freesat will also be jointly operated by ITV. It is expected to launch in 2008 and is scheduled to be completed in 2012. The service will be installed "region by region," according to the BBC.