Free BBC satellite TV service is go

No-cost Sky alternative should bolster Freeview

The BBC has been given the go-ahead for its free digital satellite TV service. It plans to team with other terrestrial TV broadcasters to deliver Freeview channels via satellite as part of its public service remit. The 'Freesat' service will also help the government with its plan to switch off analogue TV broadcasting by 2012.

The BBC won provisional approval for its service from the BBC Trust at the beginning of March. The aim is to deliver up to 120 TV and radio channels as an alternative to Sky's satellite subscription service.

"For those seven million homes yet to make the switch, it needs to be clear that the benefits of digital television do not need to equal 'pay television,'" acting BBC chairman Chitra Bharucha said in March.

Sky does offer a free satellite TV service called Freesat From Sky . It doesn't exactly go out of its way to publicise the fact however.