Home
Technology of satellite television
Direct broadcast via satellite
Television receive-only
Early history of satellite television
Beginning of the satellite TV industry
TVRO/C-band satellite era
1990s to present of satellite television
History of Freesat
Video on demand
Reception equipment of satellite television
Technical details of satellite television



Free-to-air


Free-to-air (FTA) are television (TV) and radio services broadcast in clear (unencrypted) form, allowing any person with the appropriate receiving equipment to receive the signal and view or listen to the content without requiring a subscription, other ongoing cost, or one-off fee (e.g., Pay-per-view). In the traditional sense, this is carried on terrestrial radio signals and received with an antenna.

In 1971, the SABC was finally allowed to introduce a television service. Initially, the proposal was for two television channels, one in English and Afrikaans, aimed at white audiences, and another, known as TV Bantu, aimed at black viewers. However, when television was finally introduced, there was only one channel with airtime divided evenly between English and Afrikaans, alternating between the two languages. Test transmissions in Johannesburg began on 5 May 1975, followed in July by ones in Cape Town and Durban. Nationwide services finally commenced on 5 January 1976.

Around 600 FTA television channels and 180 Radio Channel are broadcast from ku-band and c-band transponders on the INSAT-4B and GSAT-15 satellite covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and parts of Afghanistan, China, and Myanmar. In India, the channels are marketed as DD Direct Plus/ DD Free Dish by Doordarshan, India's national broadcaster and other Indian private broadcaster ABS Free Dish from the ABS2 satellite, one can receive free-to-air regional TV channels using small DTH antenna and freetoair set-top box.

In Croatia eleven national channels are free-to-air: HRT 1, HRT 2, HRT 3, HRT 4 (HRT being national broadcaster), Nova TV, Doma TV, RTL, RTL2, RTL Kockica, CMC and Sptv. There are around 21 local or regional channels. Until June 2020 all are transmitted via three OiV (state-owned public broadcasting company) DVB-T and one DVB-T2 (HEVC/H.265) MUXes. As of June 2020 three DVB-T MUXes will be switched off and all eleven national channels will be distributed via two OiV DVB-T2 (HEVC/H.265) MUXes.

Most of these signals are carried by US satellites. There is little or no free Canadian DVB-S content available to users of medium-size dishes as much of the available Ku-band satellite bandwidth is occupied by pay-TV operators Shaw Direct and Bell TV, although larger C-band dishes can pick up some content. FTA signals may be scattered across multiple satellites, requiring a motor or multiple LNBs to receive everything. This differs from Europe, where FTA signals are commonly concentrated on a few specific satellites.

Australia's two main public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, along with the digital-only multichannels ABC Comedy, ABC ME and SBS Viceland, are both available free-to-air on the Optus D1 satellite. Viewers in remote parts of Australia could also access Seven Central and Imparja Television, or WIN WA and GWN7 in Western Australia, through the DVB-S free-to-view Optus Aurora service, which was replaced in December 2013 with the DVB-S2 free-to-view Optus VAST service.

A broadcast of parliament and a number of local channels, such as Cue TV are also available. Local stations such as CTV and Face TV (previously Triangle TV) were free-to-air analogue PAL transmissions prior to CTV migrating to the free-to-air digital DVB-T service and Face TV's terrestrial free-to-air service shutoff from December 2013.