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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 12:09 GMT
BBC digital move: How will it affect you?
Viewers will be able to see all of the BBC's channels on digital satellite without the use of a Sky viewing card from May.

BBC channels are currently free on Sky Digital, but viewers have received them either as part of other subscription services or have had to request a viewing card to unscramble the digital signal.

It means the BBC saves an estimated 85m over the next five years, which it currently pays to BSkyB to encrypt the channels. The savings will go back into programmes, and improving the service for digital satellite viewers.

What will the new changes mean to you?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

Hooray! At last we in Northern Ireland will be able to watch TV programmes as the scheduler intended. For years we have been subjected to opt-outs which switch the programmes around seemingly at random. I recently gave up my Sky subscription and don't miss it one bit.
Christopher Boomer, N Ireland

I agree completely Licence fees should be paid to the BBC but I thought Britain was part of Europe. We in Spain do not ask for free BBC, we ask why can't Britain/BBC get it together within Europe and charge us who wish to enjoy their excellent programs. There are plenty of satellites for the BBC to use cheaply, time for laws to be changed and for the BBC to make programs available to the rest of Europe legally.
M.Mitchell, Spain

Who cares? Get a life, not another channel.
Jason, UK

Up to now I have found all the endless ads for digital TV very annoying, as the signal is not strong enough here to get Freeview. I have never wanted to put even a penny into the pockets of Rupert Murdoch, so I will be leaping at the chance to get a satellite signal after May 30 without having to subscribe to Sky. My only question is why hasn't the BBC publicised this free access card that apparently already exists according to some of the other people writing to this page?
Alex Hutchinson, Cornwall

Does this mean we will get a year off the licence fee so we can all buy digiboxes?
Ian White, Doncaster UK

If Sky wants to put the BBC channels as part of their package, then they should be paying the BBC and not the other way round. Free to air BBC should only be available to the people who are paying the UK TV licence fee. This puts right a ridiculous situation.
Pete B, UK

Anyone with a care at all in how their pictures look will want to jump at this opportunity!!
Kay, UK
Great news! Please get ITV, Channel 4 and C5 on board as soon as possible, and then those of us who live in areas not served by Freeview can finally have access to (hopefully!) High quality digital widescreen sources. As for the cable industry, if they delivered good quality images perhaps they would have a chance. Anyone with a care at all in how their pictures look will want to jump at this opportunity!!
Kay, UK

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding on this story:

1. BBC Channels have always been free. If you weren't a Sky subscriber, you could get a free viewing card, though this was never properly promoted.
2. The satellite switch is to one that is in the same orbital position, so no dish realignment is needed by anyone.
3. The new satellite has a beam that is tightly focussed on the UK, thus ensuring that BBC signals are not broadcast outside our shores.
4. It is illegal anyway to watch the BBC "via sky" in Europe. Those that do have obtained viewing cards fraudulently. The satellite switch saves the 85M cost to prevent the copyright infringement of viewing BBC material abroad.

My view? Excellent. I get additional programmes and the BBC have more money to spend on them. Just don't waste it on more DOG machines!
John Smith, UK

How much of the licence fee now goes to digital programmes that we cannot watch ?
Ian, England
Yet again the majority of licence fee payers are subsidising those who can afford (and want)digital television and radio. I am not aware of licence fee payers being consulted if they wanted digital. How much of the licence fee now goes to digital programmes that we cannot watch ?
Ian, England

Once I found out that I was able to obtain a free-to-air card from the ITC, I was happy to install a Sky box and dish which gives me all the benefits of Freeview, and other channels besides, without paying a monthly contract. So, Sky are the carrier but so what? What annoys me is that, although this has always been an option for potential digital viewers, I really had to argue with the local sky retailer to get it and it is never mentioned as an option in the press. Why? I hope I don't now need another dish, just for the BBC channels.
Russell Moore, Northern Ireland

Excellent!!! Just the way it should be. I am Scottish and living in England and it is frustrating that I subscribe to Sky (Full Package) and can't see the Scotland games etc that I see in Scotland for free.
Lee, England

You can already get BBC channels for free on satellite
Rose, UK
No one here seems to realise that you can already get BBC channels for free on satellite without having to pay for a subscription. Sky has been told by regulators that it has to offer a free satellite dish and box to everyone, regardless of whether you subscribe or not. You just pay for installation (around a hundred pounds) and they send you a free-to-air, or 'solus' card.
Rose, UK

Why is the British licence fee-payer effectively funding free television for the world at large? I'm sick of paying through the nose so that people in Spain or Outer Mongolia can use BBC services for nothing. The British people are being ripped off, as usual.
Rick, UK

A good move by the BBC. Now if you can just use some of those 85m savings to fund live Premiership matches, I can wave goodbye to my Sky subscription altogether!
lawrence, UK

I have a Sky Decoder with viewing card(no subscription).Your news item 'BBC digital move' does not explain how I will receive BBC digital programs after May 30th. Do I need new hardware? Plenty of information on the savings and the instant use of these savings. But you have not made it clear as to how I as a Sky decoder owner gets on!. By the way many of the viewers in Spain also reside in England and pay the licence fee!
John , England

Well I hope it starts a new wave of "open skies" across Europe. Having travelled extensively around the Continent, I've no doubt that British TV is by far the best, and admired, particularly the BBC without the incredibly annoying adverts. However, I hope other countries across Europe adopt the same idea and give us in the UK a chance to se some of their programmes to help this country's very poor language skills.
Tim Covey, England

This surely is a backwards step
Bob Findlay, England
A friend in Spain has access to 'free to view packages' on his satellite system and will now not be able to watch BBC programmes. More importantly, when we visit Spain for holidays we can no longer see our favourite BBC programmes as the service will be gone. This surely is a backwards step. No wonder the ITV are applauding the BBC. They will be available in Spain and the BBC won't. Interesting?
Bob Findlay, England

Absolutely nothing as the government won't get the transmitter for my area upgraded.
Keith, UK

Great news. People all over Europe will now be able to get all of the BBC channels just by buying a dish and second hand Sky box.
Cloggie, Netherlands

Cloggie from the Netherlands is unfortunately wrong. People all over continental Europe, rather than being able to get all of the BBC channels free, won't be able to get any.
Chris Q, England

I already get all the BBC channels for free on a 'Free to View' card in a used Sky-box hooked up to the dish that the previous house owner left behind. I want to know when the TV Licensing Authority is going to chase all those abroad who now watch BBC and ITV programmes for free when we have to buy a licence to do so. It's about time this archaic system was abolished.
Brian, UK

This is the best move the BBC have made since the launch of Freeview DTT. The BBC should never have been dependent on a third-party encryption system.
Chris, UK

Great idea! About time that Sky had some of its monopoly taken away. I had On Digital, now I have Freeview. I am tired of paying for adverts. I think personally that Sky should be banned from showing adverts, or banned from charging a subscription fee. Good luck to the BB, showing Sky that they can't have their cake and eat it.
Vish, UK

I think this is great news. Not renewing the encryption contract with Sky will allow access to digital services for those who have Sky equipment but can no longer afford the ever increasing subscription charges. An added bonus is that it will free up money to be ploughed back into programming. Winners all round except Sky who make too much money off people anyway.
James Pearse, UK

I have given up completely on digital television
Mike, England
This means absolutely nothing to me. Like many, I purchased a box to allow access to Freeview, had terrible trouble trying to set the thing up, and have given up completely on digital television. Until the companies involved make the technology more user friendly, I'm afraid they are facing an uphill struggle.
Mike, England

As a Scot living in Birmingham, I think this is fantastic news, Scottish football, Scottish Hogmanay TV and an end to irrelevant BBC LND? News, praise be.
George, UK

Can I now stop my subscription with Sky but still use the equipment? I cannot get free to air and the terrestrial signal is poor so I have to use satellite but I do not want Sky programmes. Anybody got an answer?
John Stych, UK

As long as I can still receive BBC News 24 I'm not bothered. The only 24 hours news channel without 23 hours of adverts!
Chris Gledhill, England

Leaving Sky sounds excellent. I don't subscribe to Sky, but I have no terrestrial reception hence my complete reliance on satellite. I have no objection to buying a 'one off' BBC digibox but will I need to realign my satellite dish?
Alan Crookes, Wales

If it'll reduce the license fee by a quid a year then even better
Gareth, UK
This is excellent news. As a Scots ex-pat, if you will, living in England I miss getting the Scottish football on BBC1 via Sky due to the default being London's version of the Beeb even though I live in the Midlands. It will be a godsend to me as I also miss the larger comedy output on BBC1 Scotland. And if it'll reduce the license fee by a quid a year then even better, although that might be the Scots blood talking.
Gareth, UK

Great news! No doubt the extra 85m put into the BBC's budget will mean the license fee can come down, or they can go on producing such spectacular schedules of repeats.
John B, UK

I fully support Greg Dyke's sensible decision. Sky keep putting subscriptions up and also conditional access charges will rocket every time the contract is negotiated. The BBC should not subsidise money for their sports and movie channels.
Nathan Shroder, UK

The move will only result in depriving thousands of loyal British viewers living in Europe the benefit of enjoying BBC programming
A Patel, Denmark
One can fully understand the BBC's wish to dispense with the so called encryption fee charged by BSKYB. However the proposed move to a smaller footprint satellite will only result in depriving thousands of loyal British viewers currently working and living in Europe the benefit of enjoying BBC programming. Surely the correct solution should be for BSKYB to either forego the encryption fee charged or to allocate a portion of the subscription fees paid by these loyal viewers to the BBC and other Freeview operators. The proposed move will also result in Europeans living in France, Benelux and Northern Spain to receive the BBC programming free of charge whilst the Sky subscribers living and working in Europe will be penalised for attempting to pay for the privilege of watching the BBC's superior programming.
A Patel, Denmark

"The move will only result in depriving thousands of loyal British viewers living in Europe the benefit of enjoying BBC programming" says A Patel. So what, you do not pay the license fee abroad anyway, so I am subsidising your TV viewing!
Kevin, Berkshire, UK

This doesn't change anything really for satellite viewers except now the fact we get all the BBC regions and more money for BBC programmes which is good.
Andrew, Notts, UK

Hopefully this will loosen Sky's stranglehold over satellite TV in the UK
Paul Adams, UK
I think this move is excellent, and will probably make me get a dish and box. So far I've avoided it to avoid lining Murdoch's pockets, however little. Competition to Murdoch's Sky is what the UK needs, and I sincerely hope ITV and Channel 4 sign up. That you can later upgrade to other packages is good, and hopefully this will loosen Sky's stranglehold over satellite TV in the UK. Of course, I'll only buy if the price is right.
Paul Adams, UK

My eye was caught by the headline that BBC digital programmes are henceforth to be shown "in the clear". Disappointment followed however, when I discovered that this did not mean an end to the infuriating permanent onscreen logos, DOGS and other annoying graffiti which will prohibit me from ever 'going digital'.
Frank, Scotland

I didn't realise that the BBC paid such a large amount of money to Sky. It seems prudent to leave the Sky platform.
Paul Morley, UK

I think it will affect me very little. I don't have a digital subscription and refuse to pay out for the hardware alone. I had contemplated joining Freeview but since that is not available in my area and Sky is the only option then I think I'll ignore the issue until I have no choice in the matter and have to subscribe or be without TV (not that that's a bad thing). A lot more needs to be done to the service before I'll allow it to entice me in.
Isen, UK




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