A Viewsat Xtreme FTA receiver
A free-to-air or FTA Receiver is a satellite television receiver designed to receive unencrypted broadcasts. Modern decoders are typically compliant with the MPEG-2/DVB-S and more recently the MPEG-4/DVB-S2 standard for digital television, while older FTA receivers relied on analog satellite transmissions which have declined rapidly in recent years.
Mainstream broadcast programming
In some countries, it is common for mainstream broadcasters to broadcast their channels over satellite as FTA. Most notably, in the German-speaking countries, most of the main terrestrial broadcasters, such as ARD Das Erste and ZDF offer FTA satellite broadcasts, as do some of the more recent satellite rivals such as Sat.1 and RTL. The satellites on which these channels broadcast, at Astra's 19.2° east position, are receivable throughout most of Europe.
In the UK, all the original five terrestrial broadcasters, BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4, and Five broadcast FTA on digital satellite in some form, including many of their regional variations. However, in some countries, it is not the norm for mainstream channels to broadcast on FTA satellite television.
Ethnic and religious programming
FTA receivers are sold in the United States and Canada for the purpose of viewing unencrypted free-to-air satellite channels, the bulk of which are located on Galaxy 19 (97°W, Ku band). There is also a substantial amount of Christian-based programming available on several satellites over both North America and Europe, such as The God Channel, JCTV, EWTN, and 3ABN.
The PBS Satellite Service offers educational programming on Ku band DVB from the AMC-21 satellite (125°W). As there is no standard MPEG audio on many of these channels, the AC3-only feeds require a Dolby Digital-capable receiver. They are otherwise free. Channels include PBS-HD/PBS-X as well as various secondary programmes normally carried on digital subchannels of PBS terrestrial member stations.
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