What is Free-to-Air (FTA)?

Free to air is an expression used to describe both television and radio broadcasts that are not encrypted. This enables anyone;

  • With a satellite dish to pick up these TV programs without subscribing to a cable or satellite company.
  • With an ordinary radio to pickup and listen to radio programs.

When first radio and then television began, virtually all programs on the networks were free to air and could be listened to or viewed by anyone in close enough range to broadcast antennas.

A free-to-air receiver
A free-to-air receiver

Free-to-air (FTA) television (TV) and radio broadcasts are sent unencrypted and may be received via any suitable receiver.


  • Free-to-view (FTV) is, generally, available without subscription.
  • A free-to-air or FTA Receiver is a satellite television receiver designed to receive unencrypted broadcasts.
  • Though free to air programming may be free to watch, it is not free for the broadcasting company. All broadcasting radio and television stations must pay licensing fees to legally broadcast.  The broadcasting company can save a lot of money by cutting on the FTA.


The purpose of viewing unencrypted free-to-air satellite channels include health, ethnic, religious and educational programs.

Previous articleHow to view free-to-air channels on DSTV decoder DSD1110 in Southern Africa
Next articleWhat is an LNB?
Avatar of Ockert J van Nieuwenhuizen
Based in South Africa, Ockert J van Nieuwenhuizen is a satellite broadcast techie and has written a number of articles on tech.africa


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.