Q&A: What is non-Freesat mode?

In this Q&A, a516digital introduces Freesat users to the functionality of non-Freesat mode, giving access to many more channels on satellite.

Q: What is non-Freesat mode?
A: non-Freesat mode is a function on Freesat satellite receivers allowing viewers to access other free-to-air channels broadcast from the satellites your dish is pointing at, but who are not in the Freesat channel list, thus giving you access to many more digital satellite channels.

a516digital has mentioned the term quite frequently recently, particularly in connection with Travel Channel and Horse and Country TV, which have been available to Freesat viewers in this mode.

Q: What kind of channels are available in non-Freesat mode?
non-Freesat mode enables Freesat users to watch different ITV regions, or to watch STV or UTV if you're not in their licence area - and vice versa.

non-Freesat mode gives you access to channels such as eNCA, Horse and Country TV and Chart Show Dance. There's extra HD from Arise News HD and STV HD is still hidden away in non-Freesat mode at the moment...

Many channels are making the jump from being available in non-Freesat mode to being available on the Freesat channel list or Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), with Sky News, Challenge and Pick TV joining Freesat last December and current non-Freesat mode big hitters Travel Channel and VIVA expected to join very shortly. In an ideal world, all the good channels would be on the main Freesat channel list, but until then, there's non-Freesat mode.

If you want timeshift versions of Challenge and Pick TV, you'll find them in non-Freesat mode!

Find out more:
ITV/STV/UTV Regions in non-Freesat mode >

Further articles highlighting non-Freesat mode channels will appear on a516digital soon.

Q: Are there any issues with non-Freesat mode?
A: The downside of services only available in non-Freesat mode is that, depending on receiver, they are not as easily accessible and you can't access a full 7-day programme guide for the channels and you have to set up manual recordings if you want to record a forthcoming programme.  If channels in non-Freesat mode change frequencies/transponders, you have to search for them again.

(If channels in the main Freesat Guide change frequencies, then the Freesat EPG re-points your satellite receiver to the correct new location automatically.)

For satellite TV enthusiasts, non-Freesat mode can be very basic, and they may prefer to use a generic free-to-air satellite receiver in order to have full control.

If you have a standard Freesat set-up, you can't use non-Freesat mode to receive services on satellites other than those orbiting at 28 degrees East. You can't use non-Freesat mode for Irish Republic TV channels.

Q: How do I go into non-Freesat mode?
A: Every receiver does this a bit differently. Ideally, you need to check your instruction manual. Or, if you own a Humax Foxsat or Freetime box, why not watch a video...
(Videos provided on the YouTube platform. Content providers are not affiliated with a516digital, and are only included here as a service. For questions about content, please use the comments function with YouTube and not a516digital)

In this video, tvtradedave shows how its done on a Humax Foxsat receiver:
since this video was produced, Sky News  (UK) has been added to Freesat channel 202, although the Irish version (different adverts) is still exclusively available in non-Freesat mode. The same manual tuning principle applies to all non-Freesat services.

And here's how it works on a Freesat Freetime receiver from Humax, from tvtradedave:

If you have a Manhattan branded receiver, this is how you get into non-Freesat mode:

In the set-up menu, you'll find a "system" option, where non-Freesat mode can be accessed:

This is how it looks on a Manhattan HD-S receiver.

Once in the menu, you can press OK to do an automatic scan - this will go through the entire frequency range for the satellite system Freesat operates on and adds all free-to-air channels you haven't got on your Freesat channel list.

The downside of this function is that your receiver may store countless adult, religious and shopping services which you may not want to appear on your receiver. Your receiver will assign numbers to the non-Freesat mode channels in the 3000 range for TV services and 4000 range for radio stations. It's not possible to list what channel numbers they might be assigned to on your box.

Alternatively, you can do a manual scan. (You just press the right arrow button to move the above menu onto manual scan).

Here you can enter the frequency, polarisation (horizontal / vertical) and symbol rate for a satellite transponder. Navigate using the arrow key buttons moving up, down and side ways through the menu.

(You can just type in the frequency/symbol rate  once the relevant part of the menu is highlighted - it overwrites the number already in the menu - 10817 in the case of the image shown. Use the right arrow button to change the polarisation once this is selected on the menu.)

If you've entered the settings correctly, the signal strength indicator will tell you if you've locked on to a transponder.

If the figures are "0%", you've not entered the details correctly. Remember, frequency, symbol rate and polarisation must be correct. If you have just got a normal Freesat set-up, you won't be able to receive channels from other countries on other satellite receivers. Non-Freesat mode can't be used for Irish TV channels.

Using manual tuning, you add all channels on one particular transponder onto your line-up. Unfortunately you can't select individual channels, but you can quickly delete any "rubbish" channels later. As with automatic scanning, channels are allocated a number in the 3000s (TV) or 4000s (Radio) by your receiver.

To delete unwanted channels in non-Freesat mode, press "list" and use the right arrow button to toggle between Freesat TV channels, Freesat Radio stations and non-Freesat channels. Once the non-Freesat list is showing,  highlight the channel you don't want. Press red to delete, and repeat as often as neccessary to remove all unwanted channels.

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