Viewers group calls for free to air satellite service for Welsh homes

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#1
A TV viewers' group is calling for a free-to-air independent satellite service for households in Wales that can't get a clear reception for stations like S4C and Channel 5.

Digital terrestrial TV was launched in the UK with the promise that many viewers in Wales unable to get the standard five channels would finally be switched on.

But there are many households that even if they used this technology would still be deprived of access to the five basic channels.

The only way they can improve their reception is to sign up to Sky's free-to-air digital satellite service for around £150.

But the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) says it's time to break up Sky's monopoly of satellite services so other firms can provide cheaper deals.

The group says free-to-air digital satellite services should be offered to viewers for around the same cost as digital terrestrial boxes - these can now be bought for around £50.

By 2012 analogue TV signals, which currently provides the vast majority of viewers with their terrestrial TV images, will be switched off and the five main channels provided through digital services.

VLV chairman Jocelyn Hay says Welsh viewers face several more years with substandard TV receptions until the analogue switch-off, unless they opt for Sky's package.

When the analogue switch-off occurs many more viewers will be able to access all five channels through digital terrestrial boxes because frequencies will be freed up and there won't be the same interference between them.

Mrs Hay said, "Television and radio signals need a clear line of sight. You don't have that in the valleys and you need several local relay transmitters to get the signal down there.

"The transmitter network for FM, analogue and digital terres-trial is very poor for all broadcasters in Wales.

"The only alternatives are satellite or cable, but cable only exists in major urban areas. Wales is worse off than anywhere else in the UK for the quality of its reception because of its geo-graphical nature.

"We want an independent free-to-air digital service for people who cannot get an analogue signal and who will not be able to get a digital signal until analogue is switched over."

Sky free-to-air service is encrypted and to access it users must obtain a "solus" viewing card, which guarantees access only for the next five years.

Viewers who sign up today could face the risk of Sky withdrawing its card, or of a change in its terms, just at the time that switch-over is completed, says the VLV.

A spokesman for Sky said it launched its free-to-air service last October precisely for viewers such as those in Wales who cannot access terrestrial and other channels with a digital terrestrial box.

The company has no intention of changing the terms of its free-to-air deal after five years and there is nothing to stop other companies launching a satellite digital service, said the spokesman.

"Our product makes more choice available to thousands of households without a subscription fee. If others wish to launch products that is up to them," said Sky.

Source: ic wales
 

rolfw

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#2
I have to say that i agree with Sky on this one, to expect an installed digital receiver for £50 is ridiculous.
 

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#3
£50 maybe too little for an installed receiver, but £150 is too much if you already have a dish in the house you've moved into or you want arrange your own installation (e.g. as part of a motorised system). That's no different to Freeview; if you need to upgrade your aerial, you have to pay extra on top of the cost of the box.

What is the real cost of a Digibox and card? Give Sk* a 10 or 15% profit margin and then make them sell Digiboxes for that with no strings or 'compulsory' installation attached.
 

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#4
Easysat said:
£50 maybe too little for an installed receiver
Not just too little, it is a derisory amount, why should Sky do this for less than cost, infact, why should anyone?

If these people couldn't receive the terrestrial analogue channels properly, why should they get a satellite system at a ridiculous price.

But if they already have a dish, they can buy a receiver on ebay and buy a freesat card for a total of £70, problem solved. :)
 

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#5
Well I totally agree with Rolf that the Sky installer should get paid the proper amount. But I think the Welsh viewers have a valid point about getting access to free, public TV at the same price as anywhere else. Remote areas have always been subsidised by more densely populated areas: you pay much the same cost for your electricity, gas, mobile phone calls, etc. in the Welsh mountains or Cumbria even though the cost of the infrastructure per user is much higher than in SE England.

I don't agree with the point about Ebay though. When you buy from Ebay, you don't have the same legal protection as buying from a proper retailer and you're never quite sure that the merchandise hasn't been half-inched. Why shouldn't you be able to walk into your local satellite shop and walk out with a Digibox and card? Most other countries seem to manage to sell satellite receivers this way.
 

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#6
I don't disagree with your last point easysat, they should be able to buy the digibox at a local Currys or similar, but you know where 90% of the boxes and cards would go and it wouldn't be wales.:) Also the price is a factor, it still needs to be a market price and £50 wouldn't be it.
 

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#7
rolfw said:
[you] should be able to buy the digibox at a local Currys or similar ....
I bought my sky box from a sat shop and at the going rate.

My problem would be/is the fact that the freeview channels are not free on sat (for reasons we all know about) - that is unfair and worth getting Jocelyn to be a listeners voice.

Moaning about the cost, well, I don't imagine there is a valley discount on the BBC license fee, or, for that matter, a discount on Welsh video recorder's just because you can't record off-air (sic).

rolfw said:
but you know where 90% of the boxes and cards would go and it wouldn't be wales.:)
Indeed, mine is HERE:rolleyes: Is it relevant to the sale of said digibox in a branded retailer - me thinks not. I thought you could physically pick one up at Argos? That's what I want to do when I am next over. Is that still true??

Have Fun,

Mark.
 

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#8
I was suggesting what would happen if they were discounted by the government Mark, you could also guarantee that the majority would be purchased by profiteers looking to make a quick buck on overseas sales.
 

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#9
rolfw said:
Also the price is a factor, it still needs to be a market price and £50 wouldn't be it.
Well if Lidl can sell a FTA receiver with dish and LNB for 70 quid, how much is a Digibox on its own really worth? The only thing needed compared to a FTA is one card reader mechanism (cost?) and one tiny integrated circuit (costing about 50p), and oh yes the licence fee to NDS for activating the NDS decoder that is already in the MPEG decoder IC. (I am not including the "interactive services" slot or the modem because you do not need them in a FTV receiver.)
 

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#10
Ah, if you're suggesting that they manufacture a receiver for this purpose, it probably isn't going to happen, particularly when the recommendation comes from a small pressure group with as far as I can tell, very little influence.

The other factor is that NDS are not going to allow their decoder outside a few existing trusted suppliers. The package from people like Lidl is probably a loss leader and made up of end of run product brought in from China or similar.
 

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#11
We could, I suppose, go on forever about this.

Fact is, anyone living in a hilly/valley/mountainous area will always be the poorer digital relation: I include my mother in Todmorden.

There are no promises that DTT will be available in her area even after switchover in 2063.

Personally, I reckon GBP150.00 is well worth the spend (just like mum did). OK, for that price, you might have to be hooked-up to a phone for a year - but its hardly a drama: else set it up yourself.:)

I just learnt that a FreeSat FTV card is now only GBP20.00.

Have Fun,

Mark.
 
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