Freesat launches today

May 6, 2008 – 09:45 BST

Freesat, the free-to-air digital satellite package run by BBC and ITV, is being launched today (May 6). A selection of 80 channels is being made available from Astra and Eutelsat satellites at 28 degrees East.

The majority of channels are also available on Sky Digital, but will be specially linked to the Freesat EPG, which will have its own numbering system. Freesat is targeting the 25% of viewers that currently have no DTT reception and are likely to have only half of the available six multiplexes once switchover takes place in their area.

The organisation, which is being kept separate from the terrestrial Freeview, is also putting an emphasis on HD content. BBC HD and the new ITV HD will be present early on, but there remain doubts over the availability of Channel 4 HD, and the SD version of Five. Both have current carriage contracts with Sky. Broadband TV News believes the regulator Ofcom should remind the broadcasters of their public service responsibilities.