Channel 4 starts free to air broadcasts

Monday, April 14 2008, 16:39 BST

Free to air broadcasts of Channel 4, Film 4 and Film 4+1 have appeared on the Astra 2D satellite.

The feeds have been visible since Friday at 10.729GHz V, 22000 symbol rate, FEC 5/6 with Channel 4 labelled as 8350.

It is the first time Channel 4 has been available free to air on satellite and strongly suggests the channel will be part of the launch lineup of subscription-free service Freesat.

All the broadcaster's channels except Film 4 have previously been part of an exclusive digital satellite carriage deal with Sky. However, the broadcaster signalled its interest in joining Freesat last year.

Encrypted feeds for Channel 4's bouquet, except Film 4, are continuing on Astra 2A and regional versions of Channel 4 for advert purposes are not yet available on Astra 2D.

The BBC moved its channels from Astra 2A to Astra 2D in 2003, ahead of taking them FTA. Broadcasters consider Astra 2D more appropriate for FTA feeds because its footprint is more closely focused on the UK.

Freesat, a new free to air digital satellite proposition from the BBC and ITV, is expected to launch next month though its backers have only confirmed it will start this spring.