The BBC has announced it has been given approval by the BBC Trust to launch a nationally available free-to-view satellite service as a joint venture with ITV under the Freesat banner, offering both Standard and High Definition (SD and HD) enabled digital satellite TV from Spring 2008.
According to a BBC statement, consumers will be offered up to 200 channels plus full digital satellite interactivity and high definition capability - all without a subscription and with a choice of equipment, including both SD and HD receivers and a range of installation options.
BBC Director-General, Mark Thompson, said: "The BBC's objective in launching Freesat is to support Digital Switchover by providing another way for licence payers to receive digital television channels and radio services, subscription free from the BBC and ITV. Its primary purpose is to drive digital take-up in analogue homes, particularly in those areas which are out of digital terrestrial coverage. Freesat also offers a trusted free-to-view digital upgrade path that gives licence payers all the benefits of digital television (notably high definition capability) guaranteed free of subscription."
The BBC and ITV have been working with selected manufacturers, retailers and installers to develop what is described as "an innovative consumer proposition". More on that when details are announced.