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Aug 12 2009

Speaking exclusively to DigitalSpy, James Atkins, Freesat Trade Marketing Manager has said that providing more HD channels is without doubt on the agenda for Freesat, citing high-definition as a “key benefit” of the platform.

Freesat has been running since May 2008 initially launching with just BBC HD, and since adding ITV HD on an exclusive red button service. Now realising there is a huge call for more high-definition content, Freesat are urging broadcasters to consider launching HD channels. James Atkins said;

So we are very much actively building with our channels to say ‘come on guys, 80% of our sales are for HD products, there are 15 million HD TVs sold in the UK and there is a big appetite for HD. You guys need to be stepping up to the plate and putting some stuff on in HD’. So that is something that we are actively getting involved in.

When asked about the recent announcement of ITV1 HD launching on Freeview by the end of the year, James stated that whilst ITV have not confirmed their channel will be available on Freesat (we had been told differently by another member of Freesat’s team) as a replacement service to the red button, they would expect it to be so given ITV is an public broadcaster;

I think that we would expect to receive a full simulcast of ITV1 in high definition, although there is no commitment at this stage, […] But as it’s from a public service broadcaster then we would expect it to become available.

Read more on this story over at DigitalSpy.

57 Responses to “Freesat Calls For More HD Channels”

  1. Lee B Says:

    In these credit crunch times some incentive might be helpful, could the BBC offer their old HD encoders to assist new HD channels, or offer a free HD EPG slot for every SD EPG slot?


  2. YASAR Says:

    More HD channels is the way forward. I bought my foxsat over a year ago. But I hardly turn it on now as I can get better picture and more channels on Freeview. So for me it has been a bit of a waste having the Foxsat. Apart from the odd film in HD, it has not been worth to use the Freesat receiver. Also I find that the Foxsat EPG is not as user friendly as Freeview’s. I am seriously thinking about SKY subscription to make use of the vast HD content and channels available there. The only thing that will stop me is Fiver/Five US, CH4HD and more HD content with a few of the ITV and BBC channels converting to HD. (even up-scaled HD is a lot better than SD). There days of SD TV monitors are gone now. It is all “HD-ready” or “Full HD”. Even the 19″ LCD monitors are “HD” in one form or another. Do we have the right programmes to watch on them?? NO!
    It is like in 1980’s giving people CD players with not enough labels to play on them.


  3. Bob H Says:

    The encoders probably belong to Siemens as part of the technology supply partnership.


  4. Nik Carter Says:

    Todays Freesat user survey was packed with questions about my interest or lack of interest in paying for $ky programmes including HD and other sports subscription channels via the Freesat EPG. This would be one way of increasing the availability of HD content – but not one that I would welcome.


  5. Alex Says:

    It would be very nice to have some around the christmas time, Also does anybody know when we are having the iplayer, as I will be able to stop recording SD bbc programs to my HDR and save space, and just watch them via the iplayer.


  6. Martin Says:

    iPlayer (according to this site) will begin beta-testing this month and be available by late Autumn.


  7. scoobie Says:

    More HD channels are pointless if they are not going to be higher HD quality like on Sky, Eurosport HD etc.
    Freesat remains the second class option – poorer HD and too few channels.

    For those not aware BBC has recently cut its bandwidth for HD transmissions by 10%


  8. scoobie Says:

    Sorry that should have read 40% cut


  9. Lee B Says:

    @Scoobie, I think it’s only fair to highlight that the BBC are using new encoders to allow for a reduction in bandwidth. I’ve not noticed much quality difference, but I think it might be easier to spot on fast moving sport/movies. If the BBC are doing this for a reason, like to allow for an extra HD channel then this could be good news.


  10. Trevor Harris Says:

    I think the main reason for doing it is to make the quality more equal to what is going to be on freeview. Ofcom is planning to put 5 HD channels on Multiplex B which will give very inferior picture to that on freesat . If the BBC left the high bit rate every one would go for freesat and freeview HD would have to be abandoned.

    If it was a question of cost the BBC would change to DVB-S2 to get more bandwidth for free.

    It will be very interesting to compare the Athletics world championship on BBC and Eurosport HD next Saturday. Eurosport has a bit rate of 19663 kbit/s more than double that of the BBC.


  11. Lee B Says:

    I think freesat and freeview should stand on their own merits, and the bandwidth limits of the freeview service should not be forced on freesat. I would be interested in seeing a comment from the BBC on this subject.

    To me the freesat service has a massive advantage in bandwith available and is available now to 99% of households. It would be a shame if the more limited service ended up with more HD channels.


  12. m o malley Says:

    i have now have sky hd and have plenty to watch in hd,
    i bought a humax for freesat hd but have got fed up waiting
    for more hd content, so i am now selling both my humax boxes
    and sticking with sky as the only hd tv i will not
    recive is itv hd though not much to miss on itv is there
    i think freesat is doomed.what do other freesat users think will
    win the hd wars..


  13. admin Says:

    Once again, a comparison between chalk and cheese! Sky will always win for HD content, no one would deny that, the difference is whether you want to pay a one-off fee for a Freesat receiver, or ongoing monthly subscription costs for Sky…it is all about taking your choice.


  14. Denis Says:

    admin – You are spot on. A lot of people seem to forget that Freesat is exactly that free.

    It is strange really Freeview does not seem to have people knocking that service and yet it has less free channels than Freesat. I think it is all about timing. If Freesat had been around before Freeview as the first free digital TV service viewers would just accept it for what it is and we would not be having some of these discussions about comparing with Sky.


  15. scoobie Says:

    I think its the lack of quality HD content that is the issue. Freesats original ads implied lots of HD content, and that hasnt’ appeared so far. I think if they had C4 HD or something else I think they’d be in a stronger position. As it stands Sky is being left with a massive competitive advantage in HD, which in the long term can’t be in the terrestrial channel’s interests as the audience for HD is moving to Sky


  16. steve Says:

    Yes, I think this is peoples expectations being raised too high from the begining by Freesat, I seem to remember reading somewhere that there would be 200 channels by the end of the first year! so where are they?


  17. admin Says:


    A recession happened! Many broadcasters started to watch the expenditure and Freesat had to revise the forecast; they cannot be blamed for that.


  18. m o malley Says:

    yes a recession has happened but sky hd goes from strength to
    strenght because they are expanding there hd content— not sitting static
    waiting for things to materilise, i do hope freesat improves soon or i fear the worst..


  19. admin Says:

    There is a basic understanding of broadcasting missing here; Sky can launch new HD channels because their revenue streams through subscription services allows for it by some margin. Freesat doesn’t have such financial opportunities! If you want fresh new HD content that other than the public service broadcasters, then maybe Sky would be a better option for you…at a large cost of course!!!


  20. Denis Says:

    I agree more HD channels would be welcome however we see so many comments on here about it, that the quality of programme content seems to be overlooked.

    The are some excellant quality programmes being shown across many channels on Freesat that are not being broadcast in HD. I remember when colour TV first started and we were on awe of it and would more or less watch anything that was in colour. Evenually however the novelty wore off and we went back to watching only programmes for the content.


  21. shane Says:

    @denis. Top marks for the comment of the week. Agree totally. Give me better content anyday. Cant see myself watching Zone Reality or Euronews in HD


  22. m o malley Says:

    i have just read that the bbc has dropped the hd bitrates by 40%
    this is also a trend thats not good for freesat as the picture quality
    is getting worse —- have a look at the what hifi forum and you will see
    a post about this…


  23. Lee B Says:

    @m o malley, if you are a Sky HD user I’m glad you are happy with the service, but not sure why you are hanging around the join freesat site posting negative remarks. freesat is a free service (clue in the name) and not designed to compete with Sky HD, I’m very happy to receive the free service and do not want to subscribe to Sky any more. The service is growing more slowly than I expected but with current conditions I completely understand.


  24. m o malley Says:

    well lee b i have been a freesat user since just after launch of freesat,
    and bought both humax boxes £150 and pvr at £300 so not cheap as
    freesat goes,, i would still like freesat to succeed i am just fed up with
    the inactivity shown by freesat i did not really want go with sky
    i feel i was pushed to do something to get some more hd content
    as i paid a lot of money on 50″ full hd tv and wanted more than freesat could give
    i have still got a freesat box and use it when there is something worth watching
    on it,,but i am only expressing a opinion not i hope being negative about freesat


  25. Ross Says:

    “i am just fed up with the inactivity shown by freesat”

    Freesat cant FORCE channels to join their platform – its totally down to the broadcasters if its worth their while launching new HD channels. In the middle of a deep recession with advertiesing revenues having plummeted there is no way whatsoever Freesat is going to find numerous new HD channels signing up.

    Theres something like 50 tv channels closed in the UK this year already – and I guarantee more will follow them into oblivion before the end of the year…


  26. derek500 Says:

    Quote from DS

    “In terms of Freesat carrying HD coverage of the World Cup tournament next year in South Africa, Atkins said that the platform is “subservient to the channels in terms of this sort thing”.

    “If they elect to put up a channel in HD then we have the opportunity to put it on Freesat HD, the same being true for ITV1 HD,” he added. “But I think that the broadcaster will be very keen to have high definition for the World Cup and it makes sense that this comes to Freesat”

    What is that supposed to mean?

    Like the European Cup of last year, both BBC and ITV have the rights to the World Cup in 2010 and will show it in HD!!

    If it’s ‘red button’ or linear, is hardly here or there. It will be in HD on Freesat!!


  27. Oyodi Says:

    This really saddens me to hear that the BBC are cutting the quality of their HD broadcasts to that required for the freeview platform, and that we who have invested in the FreeSat platform will suffer an inferior picture as a consequence. I will be watching both the athletic championships on Eurosport HD and BBc HD, and if the difference is noticeable then I will not be stopping my Sky subscription as I wanted to.


  28. scoobie Says:


    Would be much obliged if you can post what difference you see on here, and to BBC HD’s picture quality blog:



  29. scoobie Says:

    After a week of complaints there has finally been an official explanation of sorts on the BBC HD blog.

    It is not good news I am afraid for people who like HD picture quality.

    Quote from Andy Quested – he is in charge of picture quality @
    ” I have said in the BBC blog we need to reduce the unsustainable bit rates for HD transmission or it will have no future or will only be available to those willing to pay for and able to get super premium services.

    You can comment on this here:

    As you can imagine there is a healthy debate going on about the topic so worth reading up on what’s going on.


  30. glyn Says:

    I am just watching arsenal and everton on espn eusing the freeview platform and the picture is appalling ,so freesat c’mon get espn on board pronto so we can see sport in hd .


  31. Tony Hales Says:

    ESPN has done a deal with sly Sky. It will not be appearing on Freesat. You pays your money etc.


  32. Jimbo Says:

    people may already be aware of this but I hear 4HD will not be on freesat by at least october this year maybe longer..
    whats going on ? this news plus noticing the difference in quality on BBC HD over the past week. perhaps ”paying” for Good HD content may have to be the only way forward for some time to come.


  33. Denis Says:

    October is not that long away. Would be happy if 4HD was on Freesat by end of year.


  34. Lee B Says:

    End of the year fine with me aswell, next we’ll have Sky employees on here offering us exclusive deals!.


  35. m o malley Says:

    hi lee b, it seems to me that you have some gripe about sky hd
    as i see it if you dont want sky then dont buy it,, but dont decry
    anyone who has it as its there choice to have it
    i like both freesat and sky hd.
    also try and go to the what hifi site and click on news it has some stuff about the bbc picture quality and its new encoders not working as they should..


  36. Lee b Says:

    Hi m o malley, I’ve never said a bad word about sky hd, it just cracks me up that sky hd users/ employees feel the need to post negatives on a freesat website for example your post that the service is doomed. It’s all very thirteen year old kid who thinks his console is better than someone elses, grow up.


  37. m o malley Says:

    ouch ouch,,lee b i was only giving a honest opinion my own,
    as having paid £450 on freesat goods and not getting much in return??
    i still think freesat may fail as a hd service,
    also maybe if there was something on freesat you would spend less time
    less time- online looking for somthing to pass your time,with
    and finally boy do i wish i was a 13yr old again not doing what mum and dad
    told me to do, they were the days, my mispent youth down the snooker hall..
    this will be my final comment on this subject….


  38. Andy Says:

    I have to agree with YASAR.
    I never thought I would say this but I am going back to Sky. I brought the buggy Humax HDR last year and I am still waiting for the first upgrade to fix the locking up. I am still waiting for Ethernet, so I can use Iplayer (something I can already do a ruddy games consol!). The EPG is over complicated and does not have a simple mode for the wife and grandparents to use (the whole family misses the simplicity of sky one).
    Further to this no sign of Dave or other freeview only channels coming across and no most importantly no further HD channels coming. Sorry but it was a good idea that should have worked, if only it had.


  39. Alex Says:

    I would be happier if we had some of the non-freesat mode channels on the freesat side. Such as NME TV, Bliss, Flaunt and all the other music channels. Even with Ideal world 2 & 3 Just to boost the channel numbers up.

    It would be nice if humax made their box, with the non-freesat channels on the freesat side. Just with the long bigger numbers.

    I went to non-freesat mode today, and saw all the free-to-view channels, so why havnt we got them!


  40. Tony Hales Says:

    ‘I went to non-freesat mode today, and saw all the free-to-view channels, so why havnt we got them!’

    Because they don’t want to pay £30,000 to get on the Freesat EPG

    ‘Further to this no sign of Dave or other freeview only channels coming across and no most importantly no further HD channels coming. Sorry but it was a good idea that should have worked, if only it had.’

    How do you know there are no further HD channels coming? That is a sweeping statement. Where is your evidence?
    iplayer is coming this year and I fully expect we will get 4HD and ITV1HD simulcast when they go on Freeview if not sooner.


  41. Thumper Says:

    You do have lux hd for free but not on the epg , it also looks like freesat might even loose channels mainly from itv which is in talks with sky to have its 2,3,4 services in the entertainment package , the reason is itv cannot afford the costs of satellite and need the extra funds to continue.


  42. admin Says:

    The costs of satellite have nothing to do with it. ITV cannot afford to run the channels are the revenue achieved isn’t enough for the audience figures they are generating. They were looking to Sky as a way of earning more through both advertising and subscription revenue. This however is old news and has since been put to one side.


  43. James Says:

    Channel 5 should launch 5 HD on freesat.


  44. The Judge Says:

    @James: how do you know this??
    I too am fed up with ‘maybe this’, ‘maybe that’… All this secrecy BS – why can’t Freesat tell us what’s going on? I’m in a non-Freeview zone so am forced to have a dish. Sky is silly money, but surely free to air HD should be better than (degraded) BBC channel & the odd football match on ITVs red button service??

    We always seem to be sooooo far behind in the UK compared to the rest of EU/US/Japa/Korea/etc.


  45. admin Says:

    I don’t think James actually suggested anything; just mentioned that he thinks 5 HD should launch. Freesat cannot say anything as most of the time they won’t know; they might not be aware of channels before they apply for an EPG slot on Freesat.


  46. Louis Says:

    As far as I’m aware sky are losing alot of customers to freesat , and with the continuing of freesat being built in to many new Tv’s then things are looking pretty positive for freesat . The only problem is like with whats been pointed out, sky have the revenue to increase there HD channels due to its subscription based client which does mean broadcaster will always firstly go for the channel they get more revenue back from . I know there is a big call for more HD on freesat and i’m one of them but i don’t think we will get it all soon , it will of course take time just like the Humax freesat box will bill able to download films etc of the net but at the moment that kind of service is exclusive to other providers . I do know that ESPN is being considered to be shown on freeseat but the provider will be through sky and you can go onto the sky web site and put your name down for requiring the service and if there’s enough people then sky will consider allowing us to have access on a subscription. The chances are that SKY will becomes the main provider for HD content over the next 5 years but once we all have mega fast broadband speed then things are all going to change again for HD


  47. Louis Says:

    Just to note when i say about sky are losing a lot of customers that is mainly SD subscribers


  48. Johnmusic Says:

    I recently quit Sky after being a subscriber for 25+ years.
    Sky has more channels and I liked the large amount of movies. But as has been said, this comes at a sizeable monthly cost so no wonder they have more channels.

    I just one day decided to stop paying. I have found Freesat to be a very good service which in my opinion has a much better SD picture quality. I can’t speak for the Sky HD quality because I would have had to purchase a HD box and add an extra £10 per month to my already £47 per month. But the small amuont of HD on Freesat is stunning.

    The Foxsat PVR I bought is in my opinion better than sky+ box. It has some features that I like a lot that Sky+ hasn’t got. I’m not going to list them but for instance Freesat Foxsat has a search function which works really well.

    People vary. I’m pleased with my decision having switched to Freesat.


  49. Louis Says:

    Its been mentioned a fair bit now about the sky HD quality is dropping more and more each time there adding more HD content and its going to get worse


  50. Barry Says:

    There are a whole host of issues here. Some want more channels, others want more HD, some seem to want just to slag Sky whilst others seem to have grown up with the free download culture of the internet and expect the same from Freesat.

    I had been a subscriber to Sky since the launch of their digital service and eventually got fed up with paying the monthly fee and cancelled about 8 months ago I bought a Freesat box with HDD recording. This was great at the start, but I started to miss the sports programmes that I took for granted. Eventually as I was considering buying a new TV (HD ready of course) I realised that there was really only one channel available. With great reluctance I have resubscribed to sky HD. This has been great. I have just found this group and the information that it contains is new to me. I cannot understand why, or indeed with what justification, the BBC should decide not to provide it’s new HD content immediately available on Freesat preferring to gradually become available through Freeview. In my area HD through Freeview will not be avaiable until 2011 but it could be available at launch to the vast majority of the UK through Freesat. This is, for me a significant question that the BBC as the Public Service Broadcaster should answer and one which would have significantly effected my decision to return to sky.


  51. martin Says:

    all this talk of sky v freesat is confusing the real fact is people like my self
    who have chosen to leave sky is due to cost but dont forget we have also spent
    out on freesat as well on the promis of a free to air hd content and that s all we
    are asking for as for freeviwe i have allready got that on my tv anyway


  52. peter paterson Says:

    freesat has been a big con from day one
    after all we were promised more hd channels
    in 2009,where are they?


  53. Susan Farey Says:

    When are more hd channels like ITv2 hd being added
    seeing as iall the itv channels are free why are they not on freesat and you have to pay for them on sky and virgin


  54. John Brear Says:

    when are any new HD channels to be added


  55. joe Says:

    i have bbc freesat and have had for the past couple of years with 100% vewing and no receiver problems at all so for me it was well worth the money and i now have 178 channels to chose from ,that is141 tv and 37 radio and you cant beat that all for nothing ..glad i gave up sky 5 years ago and do not miss it at all ..


  56. joe Says:

    Denis said:
    October is not that long away. Would be happy if 4HD was on Freesat by end of year.

    it is on ch 126…


  57. Scott Says:

    joe said: it is on ch 126…

    It is now, but not in 2009 when Denis made that post you quoted!


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