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Should I choose Freeview or Freesat?

Should I choose Freeview or Freesat?

Hi Jon, I am about to buy a new TV and was advised that the best option would be to get Freeview or Freesat... Iím a bit green about this, can you please tell me how they both work, which is better and where I can get them from? Also how much will they cost?

Avis Cowell, via email on 12 November, 2009

Our digital TV expert says...

Dear Avis, when the analogue signal is switched off in your area, youíll be unable to watch TV unless you switch to digital. You can choose to subscribe to a service like Sky or Virgin Media, but you will have to pay a monthly fee for these, but they do have a large range of channels and other features.

The cheapest way of switching to digital is by getting a free-to-view digital service, such as Freeview or Freesat, which donít have a subscription and only charge a one-off fee for the hardware. But which should you choose?

Well, this depends on a number of things, such as the channels you want to watch, where you live and how you want to receive your TV service. Below is some useful information to help you decide which supplier would suit youÖ

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Programmes and channels - Freeview or Freesat?

How much TV you watch, the kinds of programmes you watch and the channels you want will all help determine which provider would be best for your home.

In terms of channels, Freesat offers about 120 while Freeview only offers around 50. However, some of the more popular channels that Freeview offers, like Sky Sports News, Dave and Virgin1, are not available on Freesat. The table below shows what channels are on offer:

Programme genreAvailable channels
EntertainmentBBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, ITV1, ITV2, ITV2+1, ITV3, ITV4, 4, 4+1, E4, E4+1, More4, Channel 5, Channel 5 USA, Fiver, Sky3, Dave, Dave ja vu, Virgin1, Virgin1+1, Quest, Yesterday,BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, BBC HD, ITV1, ITV2, ITV2+1, ITV3, ITV3+1, ITV4, ITV4+1, ITV HD, 4, 4+1, E4, E4+1, More4, More4+1, Channel 5,
NewsBBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, CNN,BBC News, BBC Parliament, France24, Euronews, Bloomberg, CNN,
SportsSky Sports News,Talksport,
ChildrenísCBBC, CBeebies, CiTV,CBBC, CBeebies, CiTV, Pop, Pop Girl, Tiny Pop, Kix!
FilmsFilm4,Film4, Film4+1, Movies for Men, Movies for Men2, True Movies, True Movies2,

Both services also offer a range of shopping, music and radio channels, in addition.

Hardware and set-up - Freeview or Freesat?

Freeview and Freesat arenít available to every household. Freeview can currently be watched by around 70% of Britain, while Freesat is available to about 98%. Each service has different requirements:

Freeview requires:

Should I choose Freeview or Freesat?
  1. You to live in an area that can receive Freeview - If you are unsure if your house can receive Freeview, use the postcode checker on
  2. A rooftop aerial - If you donít have an aerial youíll be unable to receive the Freeview service.
  3. An Freeview digital receiver - either a digibox, digital recorder or integrated TV.

Freesat requires:

Should I choose Freeview or Freesat?
  1. You to live in an area that can receive Freesat - If you are unsure if your house can receive Freesat, use the postcode checker on
  2. A satellite dish mounted on the side of the house - If you live in a flat, rented accommodation or a listed building, this may not be feasible.
  3. A Freesat digital receiver - either a digibox, digital recorder or integrated TV.

There are various types of digital receiver available, including high-definition (HD) set-top boxes, digital recorders (PVRs) and integrated TVs (iDTVs). These differ in price and functionality, so make sure you compare prices and find that one that suits you.

Cost - Freeview or Freesat?

When it comes to choosing a digital TV service, cost plays a very important part for most people. Freeview and Freesat, are subscription-free services, so youíll just have to pay a one-off payment for the receiver (either a digibox or digital TV) - there are no monthly bills or extra charges to worry about.

The price of the digital receivers for each service does vary though. Hereís a breakdown of the costs:

Type of digital receiverCost
Standard digital set-top boxPrices start from £20Prices start from £50
HD digital set-top boxNot availablePrices start from £70
Standard digital recorderPrices start from £80Not available
HD digital recorderNot availablePrices start from £250
Integrated TV (iDTV)Priced from £100 to £3,500Priced from £500 to £3,000

Which digital TV service should I choose?

When choosing a service for your home, you need to consider all of the factors mentioned above. If you arenít really fussed about the channels and tend to only watch the terrestrial BBC1, BBC2, ITV, 4 and Channel 5, then Freeview is probably the better option.

However, if your area canít get Freeview yet, or the signal is very poor, you should consider Freesatís satellite TV service. Remember though, you have to have a satellite dish (around £80 including installation) to receive the signal.

You should also look at other providers, such as Virgin Media, Sky and Tiscali TV as you may be able to bundle your digital TV, home phone and broadband services. This will save you money, will reduce the number of bills you have to pay and will give you more channels.

I hope this gives you a bit more information and helps you decide between Freeview and Freesat Avis. If you want to find out more about the services, please visit these websites:

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I have a sky dish. I am no longer in contract .I also have a humax digital tv recorder, I am finding Sky too expensive, but would still like a tv broadband phone service, although not neccessarily a bundle please could you advise ne about my options.thank you Glenise.p.s. we are also eligable for switchover help, but I don`t know which way to go. - May 21 2011 11:17AM
Glenise Hall, UK

I have just had Freesat installed in my house, I previously had Freeview via a roof aerial. I didnt realise at the time the channels available were different, I assumed wrongly that Freesat would be the same as Freeview plus extra channels, there are three channels I used to watch a lot on Freeview which I now cant watch Quest,Dave and Yesterday, can yoou tell me if these will be available on Freesat in the future. The system was fitted through BBC Anglia TV region, I have emailed them twice on this matter but received no answer - Feb 11 2011 10:29AM
Mr D Saunders, Walkern, Stevenage, Herts

i already have a sky satalite dish but i want to give up sky as i am paying £24 a month on a limited bundle and i dont watch 3/4 of the channels,but i own the sky box and im sure i would own the dish also,would i still need to buy another box and dish or can i use the ones that i have when i switch off sky,can you let me know asap please thank you KG
- Jan 31 2011 8:41PM
miss gibson, southampton uk

i have purchased a Panasonic Tv with built in Freeview AND Freesat. I already receive Freeview is there any pont in having a Sat dish installed in order that I may receive freesat? - Nov 25 2010 3:07PM

hi anying new channel on freeview - Oct 5 2010 1:00AM
james, dagenham

Hi, I have seen LCD TV's that are HD(720p) and HD 1080p. Who will be broadcasting 1080p and when?
Further, can I purchase a TV with both freesat and freeview tuners to get the best of both
- Nov 19 2009 2:56PM
Pip, Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield

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