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Freeview Digital Television
Freeview is a digital television system by which you can receive about 30 channels free in the UK. This free digital terrestrial television system uses digiboxes to decode digital signals from earthbound transmitters. Rather than pay for a subscription and rent the channels, you buy a digibox for a one-off fee and then you can watch digital tv on an ongoing basis Free. This is in contrast to Sky TV, where you have to pay.
If you wonder what happened to On Digital and ITV Digital, you may be interested to know that their digital terrestrial tv channels were bought-out by the BBC. On-Digital, famously remembered for being represented by a monkey, became ITV Digital, and were an alternative to Sky TV, but had a similar model of charging a subscription. This all came to financial grief at some point and people were left with digital boxes which no longer received the channels they'd paid for. However, some were lucky and at least got an On Digital monkey. These are quite collectible and it wouldn't surprise me if you can get them on eBay. The digital television infrastructure was bought out by the BBC, who made loads of new channels available free. Such channels as BBC3 and BBC4.
If you live in the UK and would like to receive Freeview, all you need do is:
1. Have a television.
2. Have a television licence!
3. Have a good aerial.
4. Buy a Freeview digibox. (for example from BT Shop, who are currently (2004/02) doing them half price).
On the third point, "a good aerial", this has to be right. If your usual tv picture is covered with snow and you can't get teletext, you need to get a new aerial, as digital tv is much more fussy about signal quality. However, you don't necessarily need to get a new tv aerial just because you're having Freeview added. Good commonsense suggests that if your tv picture is good and you can get teletext ok, then you're in with a chance of getting Freeview just by getting a freeview adapter.
When connecting up your freeview adapter, the aerial cable should go into the digibox adapter first, then from that into the video recorder, and then into the tv set.
Note: You don't need a new TV to get Freeview! All you usually need to get is a digital terrestrial box. These are available from electrical shops such as Comet and BT Shop
Freesat is a similar idea, except that the multitude of free channels arrive via a satellite dish and a Freesat digibox. It's satellite TV but isn't by Sky TV. Note that Freesat and Freeview Terrestrial Digital have many channels in common but there are some TV channels that are on Freesat but not on Terrestrial Digital, and there are some TV channels that are on Terrestrial Digital but not on Freesat. However, most are on both.
Freeview is part of the "Go Digital" campaign. The "Digital Switchover" is a big deal in the UK, as they are hoping to switch off the UHF terrestrial analogue signals and free up some bandwidth.