BSkyB commits to free Sky One



BSkyB would launch an audacious bid to take on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five with a free version of Sky One if digital terrestrial TV became widespread in the UK, a senior executive at the pay-TV group admitted today.
Richard Freudenstein, the chief operating officer of BSkyB, said it "made sense" to turn the Sky Travel channel on Freeview into an entertainment channel if the government target of switching off the analogue TV signal by 2010 was reached.

Free-to-air digital services would be installed in 12 million UK homes if switch-off was achieved, according to a report unveiled at the Royal Television Society Cambridge convention today.

"I think if that scenario happened where there was fast growth for Freeview... Sky Travel would evolve. We would invest more in it over time," he said.

"It absolutely makes sense. With that level of free-to-air viewing we can afford to invest more in the channel," he said.

It is the first time a BSkyB executive has publicly committed to launching a free version of Sky One, dubbed 'channel 6' because it would be the UK's sixth free mainstream television channel.

Channel 6 was first mooted a year ago when BSkyB snatched Dawn Airey from Channel Five and announced the launch of several new channels, including the travel channel.

Many in the industry have suspected that the travel channel, one of three BSkyB services on Freeview, is a Trojan horse for launching a free version of Sky One.

However, Mr Freudenstein warned that it was "unlikely" the government would achieve digital switch-off by 2010.

The report, called "The End Game", forecasts that if digital switch-off happened by 2010, Freeview would be in 10 million homes, BSkyB would have 9 million subscribers and cable TV would have 5 million digital customers.

The new channel 6 could be a formidable rival to ITV, Five and Channel 4.

Delegates at the RTS convention today heard predictions that BSkyB would be the single biggest and richest broadcaster in 2010 with £1bn more cash than the BBC.

It would earn an astonishing £3.6bn a year from pay-TV and, according to media commentator Mathew Horsman, one of the authors of the report, would have £1bn to spare in cashflow from 2007.

This would put it head and shoulders above its rivals in terms of its ability to invest in original programming, particularly high-cost entertainment and drama.


Aug 25, 2004
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Hi what is happening regarding BskyB Free to air launch recently. Telephone enquiries about card availability drew a blank response (surprise! ) Kenneth.


Retired Moderator
Dec 22, 2003
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My Satellite Setup
Dreambox 7000, Skystar2
My Location
h**p:// has (nearly) all you need to know!

Card-only info is in the small print (apparently...)