Free UK digital satellite TV
LONDON, May 6 (Reuters) – A digital satellite television service from broadcasters ITV and the BBC launched across Britain on Tuesday, offering high definition programming and more than 80 channels for no monthly fee.
The service, called Freesat, will be available in 98 percent of households, as Britain continues the process of switching off the analogue signal in favour of digital.
The broadcasters also hope the addition of high definition channels on a free-to-air service will increase interest in HD programming.
The transition to high definition TV has been called a landmark move for the industry, similar to the shift from black-and-white to colour, and it had only previously been available for those with satellite or cable packages from BSkyB and Virgin Media.
The hugely popular Freeview digital service, which is in more than 15 million homes, plans to carry HD channels from 2009 or 2010.
“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 in a statement.
“Now everyone in the UK can experience the benefits of digital television: more choice of channels, interactivity and the extraordinary picture quality of HD.”
Set-top box prices will start from 49 pounds ($96.25), with a high definition box available from 120 pounds, plus installation costs from around 80 pounds.
The channels initially available will be from the BBC, including BBC HD, ITV, Channel 4, Al-Jazeera English and digital radio. The ITV HD channel will launch exclusively on Freesat shortly.