Although the current recession might have given many of the big names in AV quite a battering over the past 18 months, one name at least seems to have not only survived relatively unscathed but actually potentially benefited from the hard times: Freesat.

The BBC/ITV-led, free-to-air satellite broadcasting system, complete with a couple of HD channels, has attracted people to its service far faster than the vast majority of industry analysts – and us, to be honest – ever predicted.

The latest figures show a viewer base of 600,000 households as of September 2009, with a 50 per cent growth occurring in the quarter leading up to the release of that figure.

At the same time, Sky has for once struggled to meet its latest subscriber target, limping towards its desire for 10 million subscribers by the end of the year (and probably failing to reach it), rather than charging over the target line with months to spare as it often has before.

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These facts, together with anecdotal evidence from many of our own friends and relatives, leads us to suspect that as the recession has bitten harder, more and more people have ditched Sky's subscription service in favour of the subs-free Freesat offering. Especially as they can use their existing Sky dish to get it.

All of which suggests that Sony's timing with its 40-inch KDL-40Z5800 couldn't be better. For this model is the very first TV from Sony to feature a built-in Freesat HD tuner, following in the footsteps of numerous Freesat models from Panasonic and a couple of models from LG.

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Actually, we're kind of surprised that the 40Z5800 didn't arrive in the UK sooner.

After all, Panasonic has been making Freesat TVs for well over a year now, while LG's F7700 models came out as far back as March.

Panasonic had an initial exclusive deal with Freesat that explains some of the delay in Sony getting its Freesat finger out, but we can only hope that the time it's taken since Panasonic's deal ran out around the turn of the year is down to Sony wanting to make sure that its Freesat debut is something a bit special.