Free to air channels are television channels that are broadcast without any encryption, so that anyone with the appropriate antenna or other receiving equipment can view the content.
Not everyone likes to pay a subscription charge for their entertainment. Free to air channels provide free entertainment content. While in some cases broadcasters are mandated to telecast a certain portion of channels free of cost, in other cases, free to air channels may be reserved for emergency broadcasts.
There are more than 35 Free to Air channels in Australia (also known as Freeview) including ABC, SBS One, Seven, Nine, Ten and others. In remote areas or those that are not reachable via terrestrial transmissions, the free to air services are provided by the VAST platform.
The content found on non pay TV channels, including the AFL Free to air offerings as well as the NRL Premiership or a popular television series, may be determined by the willingness of the particular provider to pay a fee for the broadcast rights. A process that often results in bidding against Pay TV carriers.
In cases where this fee is deemed too costly when weighed against potential advertising revenue; as has become the situation for many popular ‘privately owned’ sporting events, the Free to Air provider may relinquish the ‘contract’ to carry that programming for the next season.
Free to Air channels may also be referred too as Freeview TV, a term still used in Australia but much more popular in England and other locations.