May 7, 2008
From Colin Mann in London
The digital satellite television service from ITV and the BBC has launched across Britain offering high definition programming and more than 80 channels for no monthly fee. Freesat, will be available in 98 per cent of households, the broadcasters also hope the addition of high definition channels on a free-to-air service will increase interest in HD programming.
“The launch of Freesat is the final piece in the digital jigsaw and will ensure that all viewers in the UK have access to free-to-air digital and high definition television,” ITV Executive Chairman Michael Grade said. “Now everyone in the UK can experience the benefits of digital television: more choice of channels, interactivity and the extraordinary picture quality of HD.”
“Freesat is guaranteed subscription-free,” confirmed the service's MD, Emma Scott. “It will be the first time that those people outside the Freeview coverage area will be able to receive additional channels in this way.”
Set-top box prices will start from £49 (E62), with a high definition box available from £120 plus installation costs from around £80. The channels initially available will include all those from the BBC, including BBC HD, ITV, Channel 4, Al-Jazeera English and digital radio. Freesat executives anticipate this figure rising to over 200 by the end of 2008. The ITV HD channel will launch exclusively on Freesat shortly