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Freesat logoThose bemoaning the monthly cost of cable or satellite services now have another way to get high definition television with no subscription and no contract. The Freesat service, which launched today, is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV.

BBC HD is available on Freesat immediately, while ITV HD will launch exclusively on Freesat soon.

The digital satellite television service will reach almost all of the UK (98 per cent of households), carrying more than 80 free digital channels.

That includes television, radio and interactive, as well as the high definition services from the two partners.

Freesat has no subscription and no contract; all that is required to receive it is a one-off payment for equipment.

The number of stations carried on the service will grow each month, with up to 200 channels expected to be on air by the end of the year.

Emma Scott, managing director of Freesat, called today a landmark day for digital TV in the UK.

"With more than 9.6 million HD-ready televisions already sold in the UK, but only a tiny fraction of those who own them currently able to receive HD programmes, there’s a big opportunity for Freesat to lead the way in introducing the UK to high definition viewing," she said.