Here's How to Get Free Satellite TV

Category: Television

A reader asks: 'Can I get satellite TV for free? I have heard about free satellite TV channels one can receive with a free-to-air satellite receiver and dish. Is this true? If so, what satellite channels can I get, what equipment do I need, and is it legal?' The short answer is YES, you can. Read on to learn about free satellite TV options...

Satellite TV For FREE - Free-to-Air Satellite

Can you really get free satellite TV? Yes! If you're paying for satellite TV service, it may surprise you to learn that there's a free version, too. "Free to air" (FTA) satellite TV delivers thousands of channels of broadcast content via satellite to consumers all over the world. FTA signals are not encrypted; if you have the right receiving equipment, you can forget about subscription fees and decoders.

And yes, it's perfectly legal. The producers of FTA free satellite TV content distribute their programming via satellite because it's the most efficient way to reach their audiences. It's quite similar to the free over-the-air television broadcasts that you can receive with a TV antenna - just a different means of transmission.

Free Satellite TV

Typically, FTA broadcasters are government-sponsored public TV services, like PBS in the United States. They don't air commercials or charge subscription fees. But you can also find a wide variety of channels, including news, sports, religious and ethnic programming.

Of course, you won't get CNN, FOX, MTV, ESPN, HBO, or any of the high-priced premium channels that are delivered only via encrypted satellite or cable TV signals. But there are plenty of broadcasts that you can get free of charge, from many sources that deliver FTA broadcasts via satellite. FTA satellite TV is a favorite among expatriates, who want to stay tuned to the channels of their home nations but don't want to pay for it.

Are you looking for free access to popular TV shows or movies? A variety of online services and clever gadgets can bring news and entertainment to your home via the Internet, for free, or a lot less than a monthly satellite or cable TV subscription. See New Roku Models for Cord Cutters for details.

FTA Satellite Equipment - Getting Started

What you need to receive FTA satellite TV content is pretty basic: a satellite dish, an FTA receiver box, and some coaxial cable running between dish, box, and your TV set. The dish needs to be compatible with the satellite at which you're going to point it; however, most satellites transmitting FTA signals are compatible with the basic DTV dish available online, or at many electronics stores. Popular makers of FTA satellite TV gear include Pansat, Coolsat, and Conaxsat.

The receiver box will cost a couple of hundred dollars and up. Prices vary depending on the signal formats supported and various bells and whistles (Ethernet jack, wireless in-home signal transmission, etc.) You can also buy FTA satellite TV kits which include dish, mounting hardware, coaxial cable or wireless transceivers - everything you need to get hooked up.

Pointing a dish at the correct satellite is simple, in theory. But many people prefer to hire a contractor who specializes in satellite TV installations. A pro can put the dish on your roof safely and securely; orient the dish correctly to get the optimal signal reception; and run cables into and around your home neatly. See "satellite television installation" in your local phone book.

What can you watch on FTA satellite TV? There are literally thousands of channels, and many Web sites devoted to keeping you informed of what's available. is just one such resource. Keep in mind that you'll be looking at channels from all over the world; many will be in Arabic, Japanese, and even more exotic languages. But the video portion of the broadcasts may be most important to you.

FTA satellite TV is not for major league sports fanatics, people looking for the latest movies, or for anyone else who likes to follow the crowd. But if you want free satellite TV on a particular topic, or from a specific country, then you are in luck. For more helpful information, check out the FTA links and forums at the Satellite Guys website.

Free Satellite TV Scams

You might have come here looking for information on how to get free satellite TV programming - the kind that usually requires a subscription from DirectTV, Dish Network or some other commercial satellite TV provider. I've written about the "Satellite TV on PC" scam -- software that promises to give you access to thousands of premium satellite TV stations on your PC for a one-time cost of $49. Don't fall for it. These "free satellite tv downloads" will NOT get you free MTV, VH1, or any other subscription satellite channels. Read my related article Free Satellite TV on PC for the whole story. There are similar scams advertising gadgets that promise to give free access to cable TV shows.

You've also may have heard there are special satellite receivers you can use, along with 'FTA keys' that are downloaded from various and nefarious sources on the Internet, and that this will enable you to decode and view those encrypted premium channels.

That might be true. But even if I had that kind of information, I'm not here to explain how to illegally pirate a satellite or cable television signal. The little bit I've read on that topic leads me to believe that it's rather geeky, and requires a constant effort to stay one step ahead of both the satellite providers and law enforcement. I'd much rather pay for my subscription, sleep well at night, and not have to bother with loading a string of hexadecimal digits into my set top box before every show.

Do you have something to say about free satellite TV? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Here's How to Get Free Satellite TV"

Posted by:

Clive Holloway
14 May 2019

In the UK there are several channels that can be picked out of the air with a coat-hanger antenna at no cost. However the snag is that, unless you are a wrinkly(senior in polite circles) there is a fairly expensive licence fee charged to have a working TV/Radio receiver in the house. The funds for that all go to the BBC regardless of what you watch or listen to, or subscribe to.

Posted by:

14 May 2019

It looks like the old method of watching satellite TV is coming back.It was common to see large TV dishes in backyards during the 1980s-1990s.Some of them are still there,rusting away and unused.With the new tech,you can get a much smaller dish for receiving TV like Bob Rankin described.

As a bonus, you can also listen to free radio through these dishes.Music programs and talk shows are available.

Posted by:

Robert A.
14 May 2019

Sat TV would be useful if one has relatives and/or friends coming over from abroad, especially if they live in countries where English is not normally spoken. This would be a great feature if one's home is listed as an Airbnb location.

I'm assuming that if one lives in an apartment building or a condominium, one would have to seek permission from the landlord management company or HOA before going ahead and buying and installing the receiving equipment, as there may be policies against having and/or using such equipment.

Also, assuming that these sat systems are geo-stationary, as are most other A/V satellites, which generally sit above the Earth's equator, a user would need a clear access to the southwest sky - no big, thick forests or tall buildings to block the satellite from "seeing" the receiving dish. If one doesn't have a clear view to the Southwest sky. or live in an apartment on the north side of the building, one may be out of luck getting a signal.

Posted by:

15 May 2019

"The receiver box will cost a couple of hundred dollars and up."...
Ummm, ain't nothin' free about that!... didn't you know there are NO free lunches, unless you live in the liberal, pink unicorn, fairytale land!... LOL!

Posted by:

30 Jul 2019

"The receiver box will cost a couple of hundred dollars and up."...

"Ummm, ain't nothin' free about that!... didn't you know there are NO free lunches, unless you live in the liberal, pink unicorn, fairytale land!... LOL!"

You're right. Some people complain about the goofiest stuff. It's about free channels and not a free device and in this case the receiver box and/or satellite dish. To complain about that is like complaining about having to pay for your television to receive free over the air channels via an antenna.

Posted by:

Ferdinand Lansangan
23 Aug 2019

Hello, I am looking to get "The Filiopino Channel" TFC. I heard it is FTA. If this is available can you advise what type of equipment to purchase?

Posted by:

Pio Rayen
20 Nov 2019

Looking for Antenna / set top box / RFA Amplifier to view only FTA channels in Chennai - India on a 43 " Smart Sony TV.
Please suggest a suitable setup for viewing FTA channels without DTH Connection.

Posted by:

20 Dec 2019

I have heard and seen pirate systems. I want some thing that I can get all ABC CBS NBC plus all the other stations. I live in an area where I can only get T-V and internet by Satellite but this has to be
B.S. If you know a way for me to intercept there signal I would love to here about it!!!
Thanks Tom

Posted by:

30 Dec 2019

just a note - how on earth do I find a contractor - I am too old to be buying gadgets and wondering how to get them installed. any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

Posted by:

30 Dec 2019

tom: it's called an "TV Antenna" and it usually mounts on your roof. A rotator to point to the nearest transmitter and an antenna amplifier can help - ask your neighbors if you have any. Sometime it helps to mount the antenna on a really high mast.

"ABC CBS NBC plus all the other stations" will make absolutely no effort to provide you with "free TV" out in rural areas - there's no money in it. Any only if there's money in it will anyone help you.

Posted by:

sol weiss
04 Sep 2020

i am looking to watch Portuguese and Indian channels what type of TV sat am i using who sells it? New York

Posted by:

sol weiss
04 Sep 2020

i am looking to watch Portuguese and Indian channels what type of TV sat am i using who sells it? New York

Posted by:

29 Oct 2020

It's all a crock. In order to receive free to air sat TV, you need at least an 8 foot dish. Secondly, you can buy a receiver for as little as 30 bucks. Lastly, you can pick up over the air TV if you're within 50 miles of local tv stations with a YAGI tv antenna. Do NOT jump all over a tv antenna. A good YAGI TV antenna will be anywhere from 5 to 7 feet in length. Don't buy anything less. 70% of the garbage antennas aren't worth dung. I've been building and designing antennas anywhere from WIFI to CB and TV antennas for over 40 years. A TV antenna is a dumb device. The design of antennas are the same as they were 50 years ago. It neither knows or cares what type of signal it receives. The TV tuner does that.

Posted by:

30 May 2021

What is a tv tuner?

Posted by:

16 Jul 2021

I have got T95 on android 10. Can you tell me how can i set it up to get satelite chanels from poland for example and vod please

Posted by:

08 Oct 2021

So as Pam asked, back on May 30,2021. With no visible response. "WHAT IS A TV TUNER?"
I'm sure Pam an I are not the only 2 people who would appreciate the answer.

Posted by:

26 Feb 2022

To Pam and Kathleen: The "tv tuner" converts the digital signal from your antennae to an analog signal used by older televisions.

Posted by:

23 Mar 2022

Won’t be diving in on this tech, however, the saying, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! “. Is correct as read above. Even if, you get premium networks, because they force feed you all the repetitive silly commercials, and that my friends is advertising!

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