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Satellite TV: Sky vs Free-to-view

In the UK, the main satellite TV provider is Sky Digital. Their service is fully ready for the Digital Switchover, and Sky offers the widest choice of TV channels in the UK (Nearly 500 English-speaking channels).

Sky is not the only way to get digital TV via satellite though - the other UK name being Freesat, which launched in May 2008.

Here is our summary of the different ways to get satellite TV in the UK:

  • Sky's HD BoxSky Digital - The leading satellite TV service in the UK. There's a huge range of channels available, including: Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, GOLD, Comedy Central, BBC Three, SyFy, E4, Dave, Universal and CBS Reality. Their Sports channels are unrivalled, and film fans will enjoy Sky Box Office. Sky also offers its Sky+ hard disk recorder, and the Sky HD high-definition service. Find out more about what Sky offers at

  • Subscription-free Sky: Sky offers a Pay-once, Watch-forever service for a one off fee of £175 including installation. None of the subscription services are available, but the lineup of channels is still pretty impressive.

  • Freesat: This is a joint venture between BBC and ITV. They launched their Digital TV satellite service in May 2008. They offer subscription-free channels and a selection of high-definition programming.
    Freesat receivers start from £50 and are available from Currys, Argos and John Lewis. Installation is £80. More on Radio and Telly's Freesat page.

  • DIY Sky: The adventurous can also buy a DIY kit and install their own dish and decoder. Kits are available from

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