After nearly four years away, Freesat viewers can now access five music channels from the Channel 4-owned Box Plus Network.
Box Hits, The Box (BoXmas), Kiss, Kerrang and Magic are now available to viewers with a either a standalone Freesat receiver or a Freesat compatible smart TV from Samsung and LG. The services should automatically appear on most Freesat receivers in the next 24 hours. A small number of viewers may need to complete a Freesat channel scan to add the services.
Just one of the Box Plus Network music channels remains unavailable to Freesat users: 4Music is missing off the platform due to satellite broadcast rights issues.
The return of the music channels follows a change behind the scenes in how Freesat is owned. In July, Channel 4 became a shareholder in Freesat through its shareholding in Digital UK, the joint venture between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Digital UK completed its merger with Freesat in July. Technically though, Freesat UK Ltd became a subsidiary of Digital UK.
The music channels were pulled under previous ownership back in February 2018, when there was a dispute over carriage fees.
Work to prepare for the return of the services on Freesat was disrupted by a major technical failure at Red Bee Media in September.
Meanwhile, Channel 4 HD has also returned to Freesat.
Freesat channel numbers
- Box Hits: 501
- The Box (BoXmas): 502
- Kiss TV: 503
- Magic TV: 504
- Kerrang TV: 505
Explainer / Why isn’t 4Music on Freesat?
It’s the only C4-owned TV channel that isn’t on Freesat.
In a nutshell, 4Music doesn’t have the rights clearance to broadcast free-to-air via satellite in its current set-up.
4Music currently broadcasts through the Europe beam of the Astra 2G satellite. As a result, the signal is technically available across the whole continent. To avoid 4Music having to clear its entertainment programmes for broadcast across all of Europe, which would be costly, the signal is encrypted. This limits reception to owners of a Sky UK/Ireland viewing card. Encrypted channels can’t be added to Freesat. Its sister channels like The Box and Magic TV don’t have that issue. As these channels just show music videos, there are fewer broadcast rights issues.
Other Channel 4 services also don’t have that issue, as they are set-up to use a UK beam. This restricts the satellite signal to the British Isles and the north-west corner of the continent. The geographical restriction means the channels can broadcast free-to-air, without needing full rights clearance for the whole of Europe.
[Image: Freesat, featuring its CGI crab characters: Ossi & Pod, from its current advertising campaign.]