Yes, You Can Get Free Satellite TV
An AskBob reader asks: “Can I really get satellite TV for free? I've 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 access these broadcasts without 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.
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.
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. FTAList.com 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. I don't have that kind of information, but even if I did, 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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 31 May 2022
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Yes, You Can Get Free Satellite TV (Posted: 31 May 2022)
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Most recent comments on "Yes, You Can Get Free Satellite TV"
31 May 2022
I don't know if this is still possible with newer Dish-TV systems, but while I was working out of my old motorhome in a remote area of Northern Wisconsin a few years ago, I didn't have any TV service or data signal on my cell phone. So I fired up the old Dish-TV equipment in my RV and scanned for some satellites.
I was surprised that the Dish-TV equipment was able to lock into some (apparently) non-DishTV satellites and tune in various legally free channels, even though the Dish-TV service was not active.
In addition to finding several government sponsored and other legally free channels, of particular interest was a Chinese government sponsored channel that broadcast world news in English from the Chinese perspective.
Every evening I enjoyed the introductory course in visiting China, including their culture and speaking Chinese. I never did visit China, but the show relaxed me by taking my mind off of work for an hour.
31 May 2022
If I were a TV watcher, then I would think that this was magnificent. Sadly, it's just ho-hum. I really enjoy your emails, Bob.
16 Jun 2022
Going to move to northern Minnesota ( Baudette area) and want to know what kind of system I can install so I Can get the local channels and maybe be able to search for other channels from out of the region