By RYAN TAYLOR
The idea that television viewers must shell out hundreds of pounds every year to satellite giant Sky for subscriptions for High Definition (HD) TV is being challenged by a satellite installer in Shetland.
Paul Meyer, who operates IsleSat, said consumers often felt obliged to hand over monthly fees to Sky for top picture quality on their TV screens.
HD TV promises pictures that are four times more detailed than standard definition, with vibrant colours bringing sharper images to viewers than ever before.
But while the picture quality is second to none, Mr Meyer said people failed to realise they have a choice which could free them from eye-watering subscription fees.
The self-styled radio-ham with a keen interest in satellite technology set up his business last year to cater for all aspects of satellite television and viewing.
Mr Meyer sells and installs a range of budget Free-to-Air and Freesat satellite receivers to those interested in escaping a life of subscription charges.
Viewers can access HD programmes from the BBC and ITV channels through Freesat, which is available without subscription and with no monthly bills.
A minimum 60cm dish is needed in the isles, and customers who already have a dish in place only need to connect a receiver up to use the service.
Meanwhile viewers who use a Free-to-Air satellite receiver can find hundreds of channels, also without subscription.
Mr Meyer said receiving a subscription-free satellite installation for HD TV was not as difficult as it may seem.
In order to get HD TV, viewers need an HD-ready TV and an HD box to receive programmes through their dish.
Mr Meyer said customers would only be expected to make a one-off payment for the equipment and its installation, but there are no on-gong fees hanging over their heads.
He said there was no reason why customers should feel obliged to rely on Sky for their HD TV services at all.
“A lot of people think the only way to get high definition satellite is to phone up Sky. But without even going to Sky people can pick up 320 TV stations and 140 radio stations.
“There are 600 channels on free to air, and with an ordinary satellite dish people can receive transmissions – without paying a penny – right into their living rooms.”
New customers with Sky Plus can buy a High Definition box for £49. But once that is paid there is still the question of monthly HD subscription charges, which comes to £117 for a year’s subscription.
Viewers also have to cough up £16.50 a month for each entertainment pack – which cover topics such as news, style or children’s programmes – they decide to go for.
Sky did charge a £30 set up fee, but even now set up is free of charge and a month’s free subscription for the HD pack is on offer, viewers are still looking at an annual cost of £354.25 once all subscription fees and the one off £49 charge have been deducted.
Originally from Hastings, Mr Meyer only moved to Shetland early last year. Last year he campaigned against high fuel prices and has even set up a consumer website in his spare time.