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Jun 02 2009

We were recently given the opportunity to present questions to Freesat on those topics we felt were of most interest to you; it was a little bit of rush to send them in so didn’t have the opportunity this time to ask what you wanted to know, but from reading through comments, we came up with the questions below which Freesat have kindly answers. No ground breaking responses unfortunately, especially on those questions related to the broadcasters as we’d need to hear from them directly; but worth a read anyway.

We had requested this FAQ session from noticing the change in viewers perceptive on what they now required from Freesat one year on; more HD content being top of most viewer’s wish lists, as well as increased product lines with new exciting products. We made the point to Freesat that the next year will be even more important than the first, not only in obtaining new customers but retaining existing ones too; we are sure they’ll be doing all they can to make Freesat even better, but don’t forget they are actively visiting this site so by all means leave your comments.

ITV HD had been promoted as “exclusive to Freesat” to help encourage uptake; what are Freesat’s thoughts on Sky now having access to ITV HD via the new EPG software? Have ITV HD decided upon a more open policy or should this not have been made possible? What are the potential impacts on Freesat uptake?

ITV HD remains an exclusive red button service on freesat. It is not listed on any Sky EPG and is only available to a small number of boxes via a complicated manual tune / scan.

HD sales have been a large percentage of all Freesat sales (approx. 80%). Could the reason for this as well as the obvious be that SD boxes have been so hard to obtain from Alba Group? Have Freesat been made aware of such lack of availability and are you doing anything to assist?

HD receivers have made up the majority of freesat sales from day one. We work closely with both manufacturers and retailers to try and ensure sufficient stock of all Freesat approved products is readily available. We are aware that recent demand for SD boxes has been high, particularly in some rural areas and those places to receive Freeview. As mentioned on Join Freesat, we are confident that increased volumes of stock will help meet the demand.

Are any other manufacturers in the frame for developing Freesat products (except Sony)? What restrictions are on current manufacturers?

All freesat products go through a strict product development process that enables freesat and partner manufacturers to maintain the highest quality of freesat approved receivers. We are in regular conversation with manufacturers across the industry and plan to launch new products later this year.

What was the original target figure for sales in the first 12 months? What is the target for the next 12 months?

Our sales targets are not public but we can confirm that we exceeded first year forecasts and are on course for continuing this strong growth through 2009.

Why wasn’t 200 channels reached when originally suggested for the first year?

The economic outlook has changed significantly since the early part of 2008 and it’s a challenging market for channels, retailers and manufacturers. We’ve already grown our line-up from around 80 channels at launch a year ago to over 140 today. We’re continuing to add channels all the time and will be launching IPTV catch-up and on-demand services in the future.

Why content of HD programming remains relatively small, especially from ITV?

HD TV production and distribution still remain expensive for broadcasters. Despite this Freesat shows up to 70 hours of HD programming per week for free. BBC HD has increased its scheduled hours twice since launch and is planning to increase them further in 2009. ITV shows peaktime programming in HD most nights of the week and is increasing the amount of HD programming available this year.

What are Freesat doing to pursue the possibility of additional channels joining, especially those such as C4HD, Fiver and Five US?

Freesat works tirelessly to bring more channels onto the platform. We’re committed to growing the amount of HD programming on Freesat and are in regular contact with broadcasters including Channel 4 and Five.

34 Responses to “Freesat Responses To Recent FAQ”

  1. pedro Says:

    As the article stated – ‘no ground breaking responses unfortunately’ – thats more disappointment from Freesat – I cant see getting any more HD channels on here till next year – if we are lucky!

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  2. admin Says:

    Bare in mind that Freesat can only answer so much when it relates to a particular broadcaster; we just hoped they may give us a few little teasers to publish. We have sent the same specific questions to the broadcasters, but as most will know that follow this site, Channel 4 (for example) won’t disclose anything about C4HD at this time.

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  3. Keith Says:

    Improving the quality/bitrate of some of the channels would be an interesting step forward. I am satisfied with Freesat (particularly the HD content) but some of the SD channels have more detail on Freeview

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  4. Ed Says:

    It’s no doubt out of Freesat’s hands to a certain extent, but I’m amazed that a full red button service is still not available from the BBC on Freesat. There is content that Freesat customers are paying for through the licence fee, and yet cannot watch.

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  5. Al (Original) Says:

    @Keith, Astra are to move another satellite to 28E at the end of this year. That should increase capacity greatly although I’m not sure of its footprint. However, a shift of encrypted channels off the tight footprint transponders should free space.

    An increase in bit rate or the use of better encoding would be a step forward. Whether channels take this opportunity though with the potential increase in capacity awaits to be seen.

    @Pedro, I blame the BBC Trust in part for lack of HD. They have restricted broadcasting to 9 hours per day and still seem to fail to realise the demand thinking HD is for the future. How can it be for the future when we’ve been watching HD material on our pc’s for the last 2 years or more and 80% of Freesat sales are of the HD versions? A survey approx 1 -2 years ago showed 9 million HD tv’s in peoples homes. Bearing in mind those figures will have significantly increased since then and there are approx 26 million households in the UK, thats a lot of people with HD ready equipment but no or limited service.

    The fact is the public are speaking on HD, but the Trust aren’t listening from their ivory towers.

    Someone with some vision needs to know some sense into the trust and get the rules changed and get this market opened up. They should be broadcasting a full service and pressing to get a all the major channels on HD on a full time basis (although here obviously its down to those broadcasters not just the BBC).

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  6. David C Says:

    A fine display of how to answer questions without providing any actual answers.

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  7. Richard Logue Says:

    The real burning issue now is what will happen to freesat if ITV enter into a deal with Sky to encrypt ITV2-4?

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  8. admin Says:

    I doubt that would happen; after all, ITV are funding 50% of Freesat.

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  9. derek500 Says:

    The ITV HD exclusivity answer made me chuckle. The ‘small number’ of Sky HD boxes able to tune into ITV HD is no doubt considerably larger than the number of Freesat HD receivers,

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  10. admin Says:

    …but how many would know about it, or how to do it, considerably less ;)

    Did make us chuckle also though, exclusive on red button :D

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  11. Ross Says:

    Post 5 – @Keith, Astra are to move another satellite to 28E at the end of this year. That should increase capacity greatly although I’m not sure of its footprint. However, a shift of encrypted channels off the tight footprint transponders should free space.

    Astra 2C – shes a pan European bird with an ultra wide footprint. She spent the last year at 28E, but only 1 broadcaster ever signed up for capacity (the C5 family). Shes been sent to 31.5E to cover for the in orbit breakdown of another craft as no-one wanted the capacity at 28E

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  12. Ross Says:

    BTW – it will be mid 2010 at the earliest before 2C is back at 28E – so dont get your hopes up of extra capacity “at he end of the year”

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  13. Infliction Says:

    I can definetly see the appeal of Freesat with free HD, no subscriptions.

    But until ITV HD becomes a proper HD channel on a more regular basis (and BBC HD), along with Ch4 HD i am considering holding back, even though i’d be ready to buy a Freesat receiver tomorrow.

    Poor answers from Freesat, would it have made any difference had they not responded to the FAQ session..deary me !!!

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  14. Bugsy Says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jun/01/itv-bskyb-pay-tv

    IF this does go ahead, Freesat would lose much of it’s appeal in my opinion

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  15. Ronnie Says:

    To access ITV HD on sky it’s hardly complicated. Enter 5 numbers and press a button give or take. No good ITV, No Good.

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  16. Chaz Says:

    Can you use an HD box on an analogue television?

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  17. Chaz Says:

    ITV would be stupid to make ITV2-4 subscription. Wouldn’t it be better if they partnered with C4 to buy the Virgin Channels (Living, Bravo, Virgin 1, etc), and the 50% stake in UKTV?

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  18. Mark Aberfan Aerials Says:

    I agree with chas, the virgin channels & more particuarly uktv need to be bought by existing psb’s or bbc worldwide, if they are not bought by someone with a large interest in free to view tv I think we can kiss goodbye to dave / virgin1 / yesterday on freeview & by default they will never reach freesat even when capacity is available & existing contracts for satellite carrage have expired.

    Dont be too hard on freesat for their responses or lack of them to questions, try getting answers on similar questions from sky or vm & you will get a similar (lack of) response !

    With the recent non launch of quest on freesat, it demonstates how difficult it can be for even a very established company (discovery networks) to launch a free channel these days.

    I prey that the regulators will block the takeover of vm/uktv by sky as to me that would be a very black day for free tv in the uk.

    Mark Aberfan Aerials

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  19. MJV Says:

    Were the answered written by a politician or automated from some computer.

    Come on Freesat…lighten up…we are on your side here.

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  20. Ronnie Says:

    If ITV channels go to sky, Freesat wont have many good channels left. I will be going back to sky.

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  21. Alex Says:

    @Ronnie

    I will be joining with you.

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  22. admin Says:

    The suggestion is that ITV would make 2, 3 and 4 subscription on Sky, so you are essentially say you would pay minimum £16.50 per month to watch them? I doubt many would!

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  23. Al Catraz Says:

    I’d be a bit miffed at loosing ITV4 for their British Touring Cars coverage, but that’s the only time I ever look at ITV2/3/4.

    As for the freesat responses, I agree with other comments – they talk a lot and tell you nothing we didn’t know already. They’d make good politicians … and from what I see in the news it sounds like we may need a few more of those come the next general elections… ;)

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  24. Alex Says:

    We would be paying the £16.50 for the basic package
    but also getting sky1, sky 2, sky 3, and more great channels

    just under £200 a year isn’t that much to pay for some great channels

    I agree i won’t be going back to my full sky+ with sentanta sports which was costing me £54.50 a month!

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  25. Galvatron Says:

    I’d hate to see more channels go over to subscription, especially ITV2, 3 and 4 as they do occasionally show decent movies. I’m not a Sky fan, but if these channels did leave freesat I would be tempted by Sky, since the accouncement of Sky on the Xbox 360. It looks like downloading content will be free for Sky subscribers and pay per view for everyone else.

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  26. Al (Original) Says:

    @Ross post 12. Astra 2C will be returning in Early 2010 according to their article about its move although I’m sure I’ve seen something about it being the end of this year now:

    http://www.ses-astra.com/business/uk/news-events/news-latest/index.php?pressRelease=/pressReleases/pressReleaseList/09-03-10/index.php

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  27. Oyodi Says:

    I have a Freesat HD box in one room and a Sky HD box in the other, after reading the above comments about ITV HD, I have just done a search on Google for “ITV HD on Sky” and found many website with step by step instructions about how to add ITV HD to the Sky Box.

    I must disagree with the spokesman at Freesat as I found it very easy, taking me only about 2-3 minutes, Fantastic as I how have ITV HD on my Sky box and am eagerly awaiting the next HD transmission.

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  28. Francis Says:

    It just shows you how much bother ITV is in, when they’ve got to come up with the LATEST idea “subscription” tv. I just wonder whats next TOTAL SUBSCRIPTION TV, Or is ITV in such a mess, or are they really fed up of free-to-air tv.
    I have had a bad feeling all a long about ITV, and shows me one thing they have pulled the wool over everyone eyes.

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  29. admin Says:

    I don’t think they’ve kept it quiet at all that they are in financial trouble at the moment; advertising revenue just isn’t making enough for them at the moment and quality of programming has suffered. C4 are the same, but I doubt having been FTV and Sub in the past they would go back down that route…ITV on the other hand, well anything is possible, but the decision would most likely be blocked by ofcom!

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  30. Ross Says:

    Post 26 – @Ross post 12. Astra 2C will be returning in Early 2010 according to their article about its move although I’m sure I’ve seen something about it being the end of this year now

    Its only just moved in the last month or so – I was going on the “stay there about a year” in my prediction that it would be mid 2010 before we get it back – mind you the weay things are going there will be so many channels bankrupt in a year we wont need any extra capacity :)

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  31. Al (Original) Says:

    Unfortunately I think you’re right there Ross.

    Perhaps this is a regulator issue. maybe Pay TV such as Sky, Virgin etc should be banned from showing commercial advertising in the UK and be made to rely solely on subscriptions.

    That would shake the market up by making Pay TV truly Pay TV and creating much more advertising demand on FTA by effectively reducing the size of the available advertising platforms.

    It also might have a positive effect on programme bidding wars, especially for Sports, as Pay TV Providers would have less funds with which to make the ridiculous bids we’ve seen in recent years that have all but frozen out the BBC / ITV from major sporting events.

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  32. Mark Richardson Says:

    I have also heard that when ITV HD goes onto Sky along with ITV2,3 & 4, these will no longer be FTA. This means they will disappear from Freeview. Surely they will also disappear from Freesat won’t it?

    This will kill Freesat won’t it?

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  33. Ross Says:

    At Mark – post 32 – IF & its a very big if ITV 2 3 & 4 are turned into pay channels then yes they will disappear from both Freesat & Freeview if the reports are correct..

    It will do serious damage to both Freesat & Freeview – even more so if More4 Film4 & E4 go pay as well.

    (Admin – this really needs discussing in seperate topic!)

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  34. joe Says:

    why is sky been advertised on freesat ? when they are in compertion with sky

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