Solus Cards



Moderator & General Globetrotter
My Satellite Setup
Openbox F3 85cm dish H to H motor, Dell Vostro Laptop
My Location
North West UK
Below is reply from ITC regarding the switch off-:

Availability of ITV, Channel 4 and five via satellite

I'm sorry to hear about your concerns regarding changes to the way satellite
services will be broadcast in the future.

Until now, all the main terrestrial channels were available on a
'free-to-view' basis to digital satellite viewers with a suitable viewing
card. Following a recent decision by the BBC to broadcast its services 'in
the clear' on satellite it has withdrawn its support for free-to-view
viewing cards on the Sky platform. For the time being, existing viewing
cards will continue to work, although we understand that they will be
automatically disabled by BSkyB in the next few weeks.

At this stage, we are not aware of any plans by ITV, Channel 4 or five to
support viewing cards that would enable their programmes to continue to be
watched on satellite by viewers without a Sky subscription package.
Therefore, access to these channels in future is likely to require a monthly
Sky subscription.

There is currently no legislative requirement for the broadcasters to make
their services available (free-to-air or otherwise) on digital satellite,
and arrangements for provision of particular services on satellite is a
commercial matter between the parties involved.

For further information the Department for Culture Media and Sport have
provided a dedicated phone line for free-to-view satellite viewers on 020
7211 6500.

Information on the government's policy and plans on the long-term switchover
to digital TV is available on their website at

Viewer Relations

It would seem that pressure need's to be put on the Dept of Culture to resove this I would suggest that e-mails to Tessa Jowell MP would help the cause see-:

Finally I would like to let you know that Tessa Jowell has written to the respective Chief Executives of ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and BSkyB seeking clarification regarding their position over current and future access to free to view services on digital satellite. We will publish the results of those enquiries on the digital television website as soon as it is possible to do so.

This is from a previous reply from the dept of culture.

Get those e-mails going!!! ^-J


Moderator & General Globetrotter
My Satellite Setup
Openbox F3 85cm dish H to H motor, Dell Vostro Laptop
My Location
North West UK
ASTRA Satellite – ITV, C4 and Five update 04/08/03

The CAI has been informed that proposals it forwarded last week as possible solutions to the conditional access problem, are not far away from ideas presented by others within government departments. The Scandinavians run a free-to-view card scheme that enable viewers to make a one-off card purchase, but the problems of implementation here in the UK stem from whether the Communications Act will allow such a deal to be brokered.

However, talks are progressing and there is a glimmer of hope for a solution that, although costly to someone, will enable pictures to be restored. Indications are that this could all take considerable time.

Free Viewing via ASTRA Satellite – CAI attempts conciliation 31/07/03
On the day that the BBC realised its objective in making regional programming available to its satellite audience and without the need for a viewing card, the CAI made its conciliation approach to those concerned over viewing cards that will now be needed to watch ITV. C4 and Five.

The CAI has written directly to BSkyB who hold the conditional access key and the various government departments involved in taking us all through a digital transition. No signs of any breakthrough has as yet been forthcoming and the crisis for many installers with systems using ASTRA satellite to deliver terrestrial channels deepens with us all no nearer to a workable solution.

At this stage we await to see the response to the proposal that the CAI Technical Executive has presented to all concerned.

Channel 4’s position on free to air DSAT/Solus Cards 22/07/03
Digital satellite viewers who do not subscribe to Sky’s services will soon be unable to receive Channel 4, ITV and Five via their satellite dish. Channel 4 appreciates the inconvenience this will cause to such viewers, but unfortunately it is due to circumstances outside our control.

The costs of the free-to-air card for satellite viewers (the “solus card”) have been met almost entirely by the BBC. The BBC decided recently to end its conditional access agreement with Sky and broadcast its channels on digital satellite “in the clear”. As a result the BBC has decided to stop funding viewing cards to free-to-air digital satellite viewers. This unfortunately means that free-to-air cards will no longer be available.

This does not mean that viewers’ free-to-air viewing cards will stop working immediately, but are unlikely to work for more than a few weeks. However, as Sky goes through the process of disabling existing viewing cards, satellite homes that do not subscribe to Sky’s services will no longer be able to receive Channel 4 (or ITV or Five) via digital satellite.

Channel 4 has no control over when Sky chooses to disable your viewing card, as this is entirely at their discretion and we recommend you contact them directly for further information.
However, viewers will have a range of options to continue to receive Channel 4, ITV and Five:
- All these services will continue to be available to those homes that are able to receive them in analogue via their normal aerial – the vast majority of homes in the UK
- The majority of homes will also be able to receive these channels via an alternative digital distribution service (such as Cable or Freeview)
- Alternatively, people can subscribe to a Sky package (or an alternative pay TV package) in which ITV, C4 and Five are included at no extra cost
Why doesn’t Channel 4 pay to provide viewing cards to viewers?

Channel 4, along with ITV and Five, already pays millions of pounds to Sky for the distribution of their channels on digital satellite. To provide viewing cards would involve further significant expenditure to Sky.

Channel 4 must always act in the best interests of all its viewers and we do not believe we can justify paying the costs of the solus cards, which would have to be funded through a reduction in our investment in programmes and a lessening of the quality of our output.

I can’t watch Channel 4 in analogue because I live in Wales/the signal quality is too weak – what can I do?

We recognise that some homes rely on digital satellite to receive an acceptable picture. Unfortunately, for the time being, the only way for these homes to continue to receive Channel 4 via digital satellite is to take out a subscription to Sky (or an alternative pay TV package).

Isn’t Channel 4 obliged to be distributed on satellite?

Channel 4 is currently obliged to be available to all viewers via analogue television, which it is. It is Channel 4 policy to be carried on all digital platforms. At the point of analogue switch-off, we will have an obligation to be freely available to all viewers via one of the digital platforms.

Why doesn’t Channel 4 do what the BBC has done?

The BBC had come to the end of its distribution agreement with Sky and had the freedom to begin broadcasting in the clear. Channel 4 is going to monitor the impact of the BBC’s move and explore all its options to address this problem.

Why can’t Sky provide the cards for free – or even allow people to pay for them?

This is perfectly feasible, but Sky has chosen not to provide free cards, or allow viewers to buy free-to-air viewing cards directly. We suggest you contact them to explore whether they will change their position on this.

FTA via satellite update 18/07/03
The CAI today received the following statement from Five regarding their position over free-to-view via the ASTRA satellite system.

Five states;

‘As a result of the BBC’s Dsat changes and the regrettable decision to end the FTV Solus card system, we have confirmed the position with BSkyB in respect of obtaining Solus cards for industry. Unfortunately our contractual arrangements restrict us to only obtaining cards for Cable Head End operators, for which there is a charge. The situation is therefore that we are unable to obtain cards on behalf of industry suppliers. Unless the BBC or BSkyB are able to change their position, Five is unable to resolve this issue’.

The CAI is still researching avenues that hopefully can achieve some sort of resolution regarding the situation viewers and members find themselves in. However, until progress is made we can only pass on statements like the one above. In view of the urgent action some members require the CAI can only recommend that members refer viewers or clients to the relevant broadcaster.

Source -

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