The BBC has been given to go ahead by the BBC Trust to launch the Freesat free-to-air satellite offer as a joint venture with ITV
It is anticipated that the standard and high definition offering will launch in the spring of 2008. Consumers will have a selection of free-to-view channels available without any ongoing subscription, however it remains unclear as to whether Channel 4 and Five will be included as part of the initial offering. Unlike the BBC and ITV channels, which broadcast in the clear, the two commercial broadcasters currently have contracts with BSkyB and are encrypted.
An open market for set-top boxes will be developed along the lines of that currently enjoyed by the Freeview digital terrestrial television service. The BBC has already held discussions with a number of receiver manufacturers.