Channel 5 Hope To Launch Sister Channels Later This Year

In a series of replies received from Channel 5 by readers of joinfreesat (thanks guys/gals), it would appear that Channel 5 have made it very clear that they intend to launch Fiver (called 5* from 7th March) and Five US (called 5 USA from 7th March) on Freesat later this year.

They seem to be suggesting that the only problem standing in their way is the lack of narrow beam capacity on Astra2D (not a Freesat issue), but expect this to be resolved later this year when 1N becomes available. Continue reading Channel 5 Hope To Launch Sister Channels Later This Year

No Five HD For Freesat

Five HD today launched on both the Sky and Virgin Media platforms; unfortunately though Freesat isn’t expected to gain this channel any time soon.

Many, including Five themselves will tell you that the reason for the lack of Five HD (as well as Fiver and Five US) is because of space available on the narrow Astra2D beam required to broadcast in the clear as a UK broadcaster.

In reality, the reason is that Sky pay Five a nice sum of money to remain encrypted, ensuring they are the only satellite based platform with these channels. Until a time when Freesat has a sufficient number of viewers (so advertising revenue accounts for more), or Ofcom some how force Five into broadening their access, it looks like we’ll be without.

If anything changes on this, or we get an official response from our questions to Five, we’ll let you know.

Spare Slots Appear On Astra2D Transponder

It would appear that some channels have been removed from one of the Astra2D transponders (10921 H) today; the channels removed seem to be pay-per-view channels serviced by Sky.

Whilst not major news, it has been a long time since 2D slots have opened up so the question will be, what for?

For those not aware, UK broadcasters wishing to broadcast ‘in the clear’ (i.e. FTA) must allocate their channels a slot on the Astra2D beam which is more UK focused to limit access outside the UK; a previous post on this subject can be found here.

With any luck, Channel 4 may be able to buy one of the slots for C4 HD when it comes out of contract with Sky (again) and also Channel Five may be able to grab a few for Fiver and Five US which are presently encrypted (FTV). There may even be space for Five HD!

This is purely speculation though, for all we know, the pay-per-view channels may return or the space may still be rented by Sky and used for other channels they intend launching; but if there is any opportunity for the UK broadcasters to use as a reason to actively pursue the slots, now is the time.

Thanks Rich for alerting us to this development.

Channel Five Freesat Launch Announced

Freesat have today announced the forthcoming addition of Five onto the platform on Tuesday 18th November 2008.

Since launching in 1997, Five has developed a strong reputation for a wide mix of entertainment, documentaries, features, news, sport and children’s programmes. The channel’s Autumn schedule includes Paul Merton in India, 1968 Unseen, Dangerous Adventures for Boys, Unbreakable and Axe Men.

Commenting on the addition of channel Five to the service, Freesat Managing Director Emma Scott said;

We’ve been looking forward to welcoming Five onto Freesat since we launched – and we know viewers have too. Five is a fantastic addition and we’re thrilled that the large number of homes that have already chosen Freesat will now be able to enjoy Five alongside around 140 other channels available without a subscription or contract.

Charles Constable, Channel Five’s Director of Strategy, said;

I am delighted that Five will be available to Freesat viewers. Our launch will support three of Five’s objectives: to be universally available throughout the UK, to let viewers watch our programmes on the platform of their choice, and to enable as many people as possible to watch Five free of charge.

Five (channel 105) will automatically be added to Freesat digital boxes and integrated TVs.

Update: A number of you have asked about Fiver and Five US, the official statement from Freesat is:

Due to lack of availability of appropriate satellite capacity, Fiver and Five US are unable to join freesat currently. However, we are exploring options to secure capacity to enable these channels to join freesat at some time in the future.

Freesat Reaches 100,000 Sales Since Launch

Freesat, the free digital satellite television service has reached 100,000 sales within just five months of launching on 6th May 2008, having maintained strong, steady growth throughout what has been a tough summer for high street retailers.

In a tough economic climate Freesat are delighted with the figures, suggesting the uptake is a result of free high-definition driving sales, as well as live HD sporting events both on the BBC and ITV channels.

With an autumn schedule boasting UEFA Champions League, England World Cup qualifiers and FA Cup football on ITV HD exclusive to Freesat, and first class dramas and entertainment including Heroes and Strictly Come Dancing from BBC HD, strong sales are set to continue.

Emma Scott, Managing Director of Freesat commented,

There’s no denying how much people enjoy watching in high definition once they see it for themselves and the success of Freesat proves that. Unfortunately there are still a lot of people out there who think they’re already watching in HD because they have an HD ready TV – but they aren’t.

We want to help everyone understand that HD Ready is not the same thing as HD now. Without an HD digital receiver connected to an HD Ready TV or an integrated TV with Freesat HD built in you can’t watch an HD TV programme. It needn’t be complicated or costly. For those people that already have a satellite dish installed, they may simply be able to take their Freesat digital box or integrated TV home and plug it straight in.

So what does the future hold for Freesat?

The introduction of Freesat+ (their words, not ours!), a digital television recorder (DTR or HDR), due for release by Humax in November (confirmed).

An increased number of manufacturers, including some leading brands whom are already in discussions with Freesat, plus a larger supply chain.

Freesat are also continuing with it’s plan to offer 200 channels by early 2009, with channels being added to the EPG every week or two. Channel Five is said to be just a few weeks away, with an exclusive Freesat channel (presumed RTE, not official) expected by the end of the year.

Commenting on the future of Freesat, Emma Scott said,

We’ve done a great job so far, and we’re delighted that so many people are now satisfied Freesat homes. We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners to build on our success for Christmas and into 2009