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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Sky's free satellite vs Freeview
As Sky prepares to launch a new digital satellite TV and radio service with no monthly subscription, BBC News Online examines how it will compare with Freeview's existing free-to-air digital terrestrial service.


Sky free-to-air satellite

Price
150 one-off payment with no monthly subscription fee. But this will only be available from Sky, not high street stores, and the price is unlikely to come down.

Services
116 TV channels and 81 radio stations. TV options include the BBC's eight digital channels plus ITV1, Channel 4, Five and Sky News. Other free channels include QVC, Fashion TV, Chart Show TV and the God Channel.

But it will not include premium services such as Sky Movies and Sky Sports, Sky One, E4 and MTV. Viewers will have to take out a Sky subscription.

Equipment
A satellite dish, receiver, viewing card and installation by a Sky engineer are included in the price.

Reception
97% of the UK, according to Ofcom.

Freeview

Price
About 60 one-off payment with no monthly subscription fee. The price has been going down since the service launched in 2002 thanks to competition between manufacturers and shops.

Services
30 TV channels and 21 radio stations. TV options include the BBC's eight digital channels plus ITV1, Channel 4, Five and Sky News. Other free channels include QVC, UKTV History, The Hits and Sky Sports News.

But it does not include premium services such as movies and live sport channels, Sky One, E4 and MTV. Some extra channels - including E4, UKTV Gold and Discovery - are available via a separate subscription service, Top-Up TV.

Equipment
Set-top receiver that takes its signal from an existing TV aerial. Some new TV sets have these receivers built in. But some viewers may need an aerial upgrade.

Reception
73% of UK households get all channels, with another 7% receiving some channels, according to Ofcom.

The Sky announcement has been broadly welcomed as an important step to persuading every viewer in the country to switch to digital by the time the analogue signal is turned off in 2010.

Trade weekly Broadcast's Leigh Holmwood said: "It all chips away at the 47% of homes that don't have digital at the moment.

"The success of Freeview has shown that a cheap proposition like this, with a limited number of channels, can interest people who previously weren't interested in digital.

"If you actually look at the channels that are on the Sky proposition, they're not brilliant - but at the end of the day, it's still extra channels."

The new Sky deal would appeal to people who were currently outside Freeview's reception area, he said. "This will mop up those people who couldn't get Freeview."

There are percentages of the population that have no option for digital TV other than satellite
Richard Lindsay-Davies
Digital Television Group
Richard Lindsay-Davies of the Digital Television Group, an industry body representing consumers and broadcasters, welcomed the fact that Sky's package increased choice for viewers.

"We know that there are percentages of the population that have no option for digital TV other than satellite, and this is fundamentally important to those," he said.

"And there will be particular genres of channel that will appeal to particular segments of the UK population."

Some people still had "an aversion to satellite dishes", he said, so were more likely to go for Freeview.

  • Multi-channel TV is also available though cable companies, including NTL and Telewest.


  • SEE ALSO:
    BSkyB launches rival to Freeview
    09 Jun 04 |  Business
    What Sky's free digital deal means
    10 Jun 04 |  Entertainment


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