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BBC and ITV launch free satellite TV

Service goes head-to-head with Sky

The BBC and ITV have joined forces to launch a free satellite TV service, available across the UK.

Freesat will initially broadcast 80 digital TV and radio channels. It will be available to 98 percent of UK homes. It launches today.

The Freesat service has no monthly subscription fee. Instead, users must cough-up a one-off payment for the digital box, satellite dish and installation. Freesat also claims that those with a satellite dish already will need to fork out only for the digital box, which will be available through a number of high street retailers including Currys and John Lewis.

Freesat's Emma Scott told BBC Radio 5Live: "Unlike Freeview you can receive Freesat across the country, which means that in those areas that at the moment can't get access to free digital television this is the first time that you can get free digital TV."

The Freesat service is going head-to-head with Sky, which already offers the chance to purchase a set-top box and receive digital channels without a monthly subscription and will also broadcast programmes in HD. It is expected that by the end of the year viewers will have access to more than 200 channels.

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