BBC and ITV to launch HD ready Freesat service

The BBC and ITV have announced they will be joining forces to launch a Satellite HD offering called Freesat

The new service, which will go up against Sky’s HD service will provide up to 200 standard and high-def channels and will require no subscription fee.

The service is seen as an alternative to the UK's Freeview, which offers free programming to homes via off-air antennas. However, many British residents cannot get Freeview due to a lack of signal strength.

The BBC Trust made the decision following research showing 93% of respondents said the BBC should take action to improve access to its digital services in the lead up to digital switchover in 2012.

BBC director-general Mark Thompson said: "The BBC's objective in launching Freesat is to support digital switchover by providing another way for licence payers to receive digital television channels and radio services, subscription free from the BBC and ITV".

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade said: "Freesat will build on the success of Freeview by offering viewers a simple and cost effective way of upgrading to digital TV. By offering HD capability we will future proof Freesat if, as expected, high definition television continues to capture the imagination of UK viewers".