UK launches free satellite TV

From today the BBC and ITV are offering free-to-view satellite TV and radio service across the UK. Freesat will be available to 98% of homes with a satellite dish, including those that cannot receive Freeview TV.

Freesat will broadcast 80 digital TV and radio channels, which will rise to 200 by the end of 2008. Consumers have to pay for the dish, set-top box and installation, but there is no subsequent subscription charge and the BBC Trust says it guarantees Freesat will remain subscription-free.

The BBC's media correspondent Torin Douglas said the BBC and ITV are hoping the new service would increase interest in HD television.

About 10 million homes in the UK now have an HD-ready TV set, but most do not have the necessary receiver.

Sky already offers a free service once the equipment has been purchased.