As Freesat will be an ever changing service, with new facilities and options available all the time, we thought its important to cover the basic FAQ’s in one section, rather than spread over the website. We will continue to update this page so the information is always correct (as best as possible). The date of update can be found below. If you spot any mistakes, please let us know.
What is Freesat?
Freesat is a digital satellite TV service which launched on 6th May 2008, and is available to almost all households across the UK. For a one-off payment for a digital box, satellite dish and installation, Freesat currently offers you around 200 TV/Radio channels, including BBC, ITV, C4, Five and many more. If you buy a Freesat ‘HD’ receiver, and your TV is ‘HD Ready’, Freesat will also give you access to the world of ‘free’ High Definition programmes with many channels offering a HD service.
How many channels can I get?
Because Freesat is delivered via satellite (i.e. same satellite setup as Sky TV), there’s a huge range of TV, radio and interactive services to choose from with around 200 channels presently available, and increasing all the time.
You won’t be overwhelmed by all these channels – they’ve been organised into easy to use categories within the Freesat electronic programme guide (EPG), so you’ll easily find what you want at the press of a button.
Where can I buy Freesat?
Freesat is available through selected high street retailers and some independent retailers. Help support joinfreesat.co.uk by buying online via one of our partners, listed on the left hand side of your screen.
How much does it cost?
A one-off payment will get you the lot. You pay for the digital box (from around £80); and the satellite dish and installation (from around £120). There is a selection of digital boxes available with a range of functionality to deliver additional benefits, such as personal video recorders (PVR – Freesat+), high definition (HD – Freesat HD), and even televisions have Freesat receivers built in (IDTV). NB: You will still need a satellite dish if you purchase a TV with an in-built Freesat receiver.
Are there any ongoing costs?
No! Freesat is just that, a free service. Once you’ve purchased the equipment, its all free, forever. Granted there are “pay” options, but they are entirely separate and typically third party bolt-on options to offer you more choice.
What’s the reason behind Freesat?
The main intention of Freesat was to ensure the consumer had choice when it came to the digital switchover. When the analogue signals switched off, it was apparent that quite a large percentage of the UK would have no means of receiving an ‘acceptable’ digital signal from the current ‘Freeview‘ (by aerial) option. Freesat via satellite took care of this, covering the whole of the UK (or most anyway!). The other reason is to clear up the misconception that pay-tv from BSkyB is the only satellite TV service in the UK. Freesat is still considered to be the long term replacement of Freeview.
What about HD?
Watching TV in high definition (HD) is an incredible experience. With five times as much picture detail as standard TV, HD makes a massive difference to your enjoyment of TV. Most mainstream broadcasters now offer a HD service, though uptake by smaller broadcasters has been less fluid. Freesat currently offers around 15 channels in HD and more will be added over time. If you have an HD-ready television, all you need is a Freesat HD receiver and you’ll be good to go!
Who’s behind Freesat?
Freesat is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV and comes to you from many of the same people that launched Freeview. Freesat came together formally as a joint venture in May 2007, and is funded 50/50 by its shareholders, ITV and the BBC. The joint venture is run on a ‘not for profit’ basis.
As TV advances with many more channel choices, interactive services, and high definition TV, these broadcasters want as many viewers in the UK as possible to have access to their new services, such as HD TV. ITV and the BBC believe that viewers should have the choice of accessing all of these services and more, without paying a subscription.
Can I get Freesat regardless of where I live in the UK?
Because Freesat’s content is delivered via satellite, almost every household in the UK will have coverage available to them. Only 2% of households will not be able to, and this is typically either because they won’t have ‘line of sight’ of the satellite due to obstructions, or because they live in a listed building which cannot gain approval for a satellite dish. That’s a massive improvement on Freeview’s 75% terrestrial aerial coverage.
For the technically-minded amongst you, if you have a 43cm or 60cm dish pointing towards Astra2 at 28.2° East, you will be able to receive Freesat. Note that these satellites are also already in use for existing UK digital-satellite television platforms (Sky TV).
If I already have a SKY TV setup, can I just purchase the Freesat digital box?
Yes! If your existing Sky TV satellite setup is in working order, you’ll just be able to purchase the Freesat digital box and plug in, no need for installation by a professional etc. The channels are broadcast from the same satellite as used for BSkyB.
What if I already have a satellite dish on my house?
If you currently use this dish to receive services such as BBC and ITV (most likely through SKY), then your existing dish is probably suitable for receiving Freesat.
Will I need an aerial upgrade?
No. Freesat is not delivered through your aerial but via a satellite dish, so no need for aerial upgrades, but you will need a satellite dish. It is easy to get confused between Freesat and Freeview.
What is digital switchover?
Startedin 2008 and ended in 2012, TV services in the UK were forced to go completely digital. This process was called digital switchover. The UK’s old television broadcast signal (‘analogue’) was switched off and replaced with a ‘digital’ signal. Any TV set not converted to digital at the time of switchover ceased to work for accessing TV programmes. Freesat was a great way of converting to digital TV, which in most cases, just required a new receiver and existing television.
Do I need an HD-ready television to watch high definition programmes?
You need an ‘HD Ready’ television and an HD digital box in order to view high definition programmes. You will need to connect the digital box to your television via HDMI. Once you have the right equipment installed, you can watch live sport, national events, stunning natural history, landmark drama, world-class documentaries and more in amazing HD.
What about interactivity/red button?
The BBC offers a wide range of red button services on Freesat. You are able to read the latest news and sport stories 24 hours a day, check out what’s happening in the world of business, enjoy entertainment news and quickly access the official lottery results. Coverage of the Olympics in 2012 and 2016 utilised the interactive service, allowing you to choose between coverage of different sports and highlights on countless channels, it was a huge success.
BBC have somewhat diluted the amount of red button services since due to funding, but the choice is still wide ranging and interactive services from other parties are now ever popular, especially by connecting your Freesat (Freetime) receiver to your broadband.
Does Freesat have subtitling and audio description capabilities?
All Freesat receivers offer Subtitles and Audio Description, though the menu options for selecting them may differ slightly between manufacturers and models.
What about teletext, is that available on every channel?
Tele-who? That service is long since gone, sorry!
What is the difference between Freesat and the recently branded “Freetime” name?
Freesat is the company, Freetime is a service. Essentially, Freetime was introduced in recent years as ‘generation 2’ of the Freesat brand. It allowed for the introduction of a number of new features, including connecting to the Internet for access to more interactive services and on-demand players. Freetime also introduced a ‘roll-back’ service, that allowed you to navigate backwards through your TV guide to programmes you may have missed, and watch them via the available on-demand services using your broadband connection. All current Freesat receivers sold have the “Freetime” branding, ensuring you the very latest offering.