BSkyB Announce Free-to-Air and HD TV Services

BSkyB want some of Freeview’s market, and to do so they’re going to introduce a free to air (FTA) service later in the year. The proposed service isn’t just a handful of channels either – it’s currently looking more like 200 television, radio and interactive channels. Whilst many of those will be virtual horse racing or celebrity shopping, the core of the proposition is sure to tempt many households to let a Sky box live under their television. The service will carry all of the BBC FTA channels and stations, including regional variants, plus offerings from Channel4, five and ITV.

Households will be able to buy the package, consisting of Sky box, minidish and viewing card for a one-time fee of UK£150 (€226). Whilst there is no obligation for purchasers to subscribe to premium services, BSkyB is hoping that many will be tempted to pay for additional content – of course they will.

Separately, BSkyB announced that they are developing a premium High Definition TV (HDTV) package, for introduction in 2006. BSkyB have yet to confirm details of the upcoming content, but it’s expected to include coverage of events specially produced in HD format, HD broadcasts of films, plus drama and news.

BSkyB on the announcement

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?