There are two main consumer facing satellite services in the UK. The first is Sky Digital (alongisde Freesat from Sky) and the second is Freesat.

Sky Digital is Sky’s subscription service where users pay a monthly subscription for a suite of television channels and services. Freesat from Sky is very similar to Sky Digital but allows users to buy their equipment directly and not pay a monthly fee. This allows them to see/hear ‘free to air’ services. Free to air services are those that have not been encrypted by Sky. Freesat from Sky subscribers still, however, access these services through the main Sky EPG.

Freesat is a new initiative from the team behind Freeview. Their intention is to make a suite of channels and services available to users by paying a one-off free for a Freesat box and installation. The service will have its own Electronic Programme Guide (and channel numbers) distinct to that of Sky.

If a channel broadcasts its content unencrypted on satellite, it can be picked up by any satellite receiver, however to appear in the EPG from either Sky/Freesat from Sky or from Freesat itself it has to negotiate directly with those organisations to get a channel number.


This leads on to the costs that service providers have to pay to broadcast their station.

The first cost is to get your service onto a satellite that broadcasts in the UK. This is known as uplink.

The uplink cost varies depending on which supplier you use and how much capacity you want to broadcast. As a rule of thumb, the higher the capacity the higher the price. A stereo service will cost in the region of £30,000 a year to uplink.

If you just paid this price the service would be broadcasting on satellite and potential listeners would have to use the engineering menu/other channels section on their box to find your service.

The second cost payable would be to an EPG provider to allow your service to appear in the relevant Electronic Programme Guide. By paying this cost you will be allocated a channel number that, when selected, would broadcast your radio station.

The two EPG providers are Sky (For Sky Digital/Freesat from Sky) and Freesat (for Freesat customers).

At the moment the majority of satellite users access the services through the Sky programme guide, however Freesat is likely to enjoy significant growth this year.

To be available in the Sky EPG radio section costs in the region of £22,000 a year.
To be available on the Freesat EPG would cost in the region of £15,00 per year.

Sky, however, has stopped allocating new numbers on the EPG for television and radio because they are concerned that some of their digital boxes would not be able to cope if they expanded their EPG any more. They do however let EPG number trading happen, where you buy a number off another broadcaster.

It would be prudent to alloacte £5,000 to buy a Sky EPG number.

The third cost to consider is that of EPG management. This is normally software that would allow you to update your programme listings on either platform. The service (and price) can depend based on whether you want to update regularly or have a fixed number of updates rotate.

Folder Media can advise on potential uplink companies, EPG software and approaches to EPG trading position. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this more.

You can find out more information about the services broadcast on the platforms from Sky, Freesat from Sky or Freesat.

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