Panasonic has unveiled what it claims are the world’s first Blu-ray recorders with two integrated Freesat receivers and an internal hard drive.
Freesat is a UK free-to-air digital satellite television service that is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV.
Demand for HD content has helped drive sales of Freesat devices past the 200,000 mark since the UK service was launched last May.
While the figure is impressive, it further highlights the gulf that has opened up between the US and Japan and the rest of the world.
The UK’s free-to-air satellite service Freesat has racked up 100,000 sales since its launch in May.
Developed by the BBC and ITV, Freesat said high definition coverage of major sporting events over the summer played a key role in encouraging people to buy HD set-top boxes.
ITV director of group development and strategy Carolyn Fairbairn will succeed Tim Davie as chairman of the UK’s free-to-air digital satellite television service Freesat in September.
Davie, currently the BBC’s director of marketing, communications and audiences, will relinquish the Freesat when he becomes the corporation’s new director of audio and music.
BY 2015 nobody will refer to “high definition” TV because HD will be the standard form of free television everywhere.
But the HD broadcast offering in Europe will largely remain patchy during the intervening transition period, according to a report by Screen Digest.
The study says HDTV will mainly develop as a pay TV product in Europe over the next five years – and mostly as a satellite product.
The head of the UK’s Freesat digital service believes viewers will begin to resent paying for HDTV as increasing numbers regard it as the new “standard”.
Emma Scott, managing director of Freesat, which launched in May, said there were already over 10m HD ready TV sets in UK homes.
But at the time of Freesat’s launch only around 5 per cent of those HD ready homes were actually watching television programmes in high definition – and by subscription.
Addressing the Broadcast Digital Channels Conference 2008 earlier this month, she said consumers and retailers wanted HD content– but it was the broadcasters that had taken a while to catch up.
“Free HD is a long term opportunity for broadcasters and for Freesat,” she said. “HD is not a gimmick, it’s a new standard for television and one which every broadcaster I’ve met would love to deliver its content in."
The UK’s ITV network has launched its HD service on Freesat by broadcasting the opening games from Euro 2008.
Freesat is a subscription-free, digital satellite TV service from ITV and the BBC.
Viewers can see all the games the BBC has rights to in high definition on Virgin Media and Sky, but ITV announced that its debut HD programmes would be matches on the opening few days of the football tournament.
The first HD offering from ITV was the Portugal v Turkey match on Saturday.
Dissatisfaction with the UK’s top three digital TV providers is likely to make customers consider switching to freesat’s combination of HD programmes without subscription.
That is the conclusion of Steve Weller, communications expert at uSwitch.com, which carried out a customer satisfaction study on the UK’s top three digital TV providers – who hold 95% of the market.
Almost 9 out of 10 homes in the UK have now ‘gone digital’ and spend a total of £4.2 billion on receiving the service every year.
However, the independent price comparison and switching service found that more than 1 in 4 customers are not satisfied with their digital service.