Free to air is an expression describing radio and television broadcasts that enable viewers to pick up the signals without subscribing to cable services. Free to air channels are obtained using a common MPEG-2 video compatible satellite receiver. It corresponds to shortwave radio.
Free to air television programming is frequently used for international broadcasting. It is different from the television channels available on cable TV or Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS). In countries other than the US, much of television programming may be free to air.
Most television and satellite radio programming in Europe is in free to air format. Key TV networks are primarily free to air and Europeans may seldom request for pay per view episodes. However, the XM-style and Sirius reception is not possible because of the employed satellite broadcast systems.
Germany takes pleasure in having more than 100 free to air TV channels including MTV. Most TV channels on major corporate subsidiaries’ geostationary satellites are free to air.
In North America, there are several sources for free to air satellite television. US satellites carry most of the free to air signals. A number of satellite dish manufacturers enable individuals to receive free to air channels even from apartment balconies.
Years ago, it was difficult to find free to air channels in South America, except for Venezuela and Mexico. Today, Latinos enjoy more than 100 channels in free to air format.
Australia has 6 free to air TV networks transmitting to chief urban areas. These include ABC, SBS, Network Ten, Seven Network, Nine Network, and Community television channels. Various regional affiliates of these companies cater to rural portions of the country.
In South Asia, a number of free to air TV channels are transmitted to several countries such as China, Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, etc.
In South Korea, free to air channels dominate 80% of advertisement profits. Free to air channels in the country include EBS, KBS, and MBC.
TV Asahi and TV Tokyo of Japan are some of the television broadcasters in the country that heavily rely on sponsorship.
Although free to air viewing may be free, it is not the same for the broadcasting network. All television and radio companies must pay for licensing fees to operate. Some pirate TV and radio networks exist but their spots are frequently revealed and shut down.
When pioneering radio and TV stations started, nearly all programming of major stations were in free to air format and were viewed by those in close proximity to broadcast antennas.