The Liberty Global-owned DTH platform UPC Direct has been rebranded as freeSAT in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. However, it will continue under its current name in Hungary for the time being.

Although full details about the change will be given at press conferences to be held tomorrow (Tuesday) in Prague and on September 7 in Bratislava, information about freeSAT is already available on UPC Direct’s website. Furthermore, it appeared last week in a letter sent to distributors of the service.

Among the reasons given for the change are that the first part (free) of new name indicates freedom of choice and reception; quality customer support; and the new freeSAT card (‘karta’), which will have no monthly fee. The second (SAT) meanwhile indicates commitment to offering a full satellite service and QoS and clear differentiation from its sister UPC (cable) service.

The new freeSAT pre-paid card will offer viewers a basic package of nearly 90 digital TV channels, plus exclusive movies from HBO MaxPak, for period of six months to a year. It will cost CZK1,990 (€81.4) for six months, CZK3,590 for 12 months, and with the additional film option CZK5,990 for 12 months. The basic freeSAT service, known as freeSAT light, will meanwhile cost CZK149 a month and ‘medium’ package CZK299 a month.

The freeSAT karta costs will be lower during the first three years than any competing services. All freeSAT products customers will also have the option to rent a set-top box or use their own.

Last week it was reported that a new DTH platform – also named Freesat – may shortly be launched in Romania.

Broadband TV News believes that it is unrelated to Focus Sat, UPC Direct’s sister service in the country.

UPC Direct has operated in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary since 2000 and had a combined total of 321,900 subscribers as of June 30 this year.

Focus Sat’s subscriber total stood at 242,000.