Freesat has admitted the launch of its new subscription-free satellite TV service has been hampered by supply problems with the first batch of set-top boxes.
Speaking at the annual BADA (British Audio-Visual Dealers Association) Conference, Richard Lindsey-Davis, Freesat's commercial development director, said: "We have not been able to get enough set-top boxes and Freesat TVs to meet demand."
He also admitted that he delayed the launch of the first high-definition set-top boxes from the Alba Group – the Bush BFSAT01HD, Goodmans GFSAT200HD, Grundig GUFSAT01HD – "because the standard-definition picture was so awful".
"The standard-definition output on the Alba boxes wasn't as good as it should be or as good as that on the Humax Foxsat-HD box," admits Lindsay-Davis."Alba is trying to improve it. It wasn't something they'd thought about – they assumed people wouldn't use it."
Lindsey-Davis says another three Freesat-equipped TVs are due from Panasonic later this year, and he's in discussions with other manufacturers including Sony, Samsung and Toshiba about launching Freesat models to improve the supply situation.
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"We're on course to have 200 channels by the end of this year, and while there is limited free-to-air high-definition content at the moment, it's beginning to grow," he says. "I can see a time when BBC1 and ITV1 will be full HD channels."
Although a new version of Freeview is expected to launch in 2012-2013 with two or three high-def channels, limited capacity on the digital terrestrial TV network means "Freeview will never have the depth of HD content Freesat has," says Lindsey-Davis.
Freesat hopes to offer the BBC iPlayer on its platform from 2009, and there's potential for streaming audio and video, and on-demand services as well.
The company is also in discussion with Apple and Microsoft about the possibility of delivering Freesat services via a Media Centre computer.