Freeview is the new name for the BBC/Sky operated digital terrestrial television service that has taken over from ITV Digital. Oddly enough, the BBC-run service is regulated by the Independent Television Commission, who usually only regulate commercial television (hence the name).

In getting Freeview, you aren't really getting a service branded with that name. Freeview is just a name, and it does not extend to channels or the labels on the set top boxes. It's just a marketing thing.

The channel lineup has around 8 BBC channels and loads more besides, mostly free-to-view channels on other platforms (Ftn, Sky News etc) and shopping channels (f*@!ing TV Travel Shop). These are, as the name suggests, free, but a quick look on Kelkoo reveals that STBs start at about £50 ($75).

Why go Freeview?

  • Nice, digital quality pictures.
  • Spiffy STBs.
  • Can be fitted to just about any TV, using any aerial.
  • No subscription fees, lots of channels.

Why not go Freeview?

  • Your ability to get the service depends on a number of factors, such as how far you are from the nearest TV transmitter, which aerial you intend to use, and how many times birds fly past your window (DTT is notoriously temperamental)
  • Those nice, digital quality pictures are usually unreceivable if you're more than a few miles from your transmitter mast, if your aerial isn't small enough or if a sparrow happens to nest in your guttering.
  • You will almost never be able to get every single channel. A quick look at the postcode finder reveals I can only get the crap channels...
  • You get what you pay for applies in full force here. You will pay for being a pikey. See above.

I'm sold! How do I start!

First, check if you csn get the service. Go to http://www.dtg.org.uk/retailer/coverage.html and enter your postcode. If all goes OK, waltz down to Argos and get a decent box. Plug it into your TV, shoot any passing birds for maximum picture quality and enjoy some great TV*.

*so say the BBC