Quote Originally Posted by dms05 View Post
Some years ago Sky came to an agreement with FIVE to pay for all the costs involved in transmitting FIVE HD provided the Sky platform was the only satellite distribution channel. That meant FIVE could get into HD at zero cost. Broadcasting FIVE HD on Freeview will be expensive. For example I read a comment that stated BBC Regions going Freeview HD will require the purchase and installation of 100 converts (at 300k each) for the transmission of the HD plus all the costs of re-equiping the studios.
At the time that would have been a good deal for CH5 but contracts are usually scrutinised by lawyers. It would have been remiss of them to allow their clients to enter into an agreement that would bind them to Sky in perpetuity. From the point of view of accounting, assets have a depreciation factor so I would not expect a contract to last any longer than the time taken for the assets to reach their scrap value which for high tech. equipment could be quite rapid due to obsolescence.

As others say FIVE HD is FTV where you need an active Sky Viewing Card to decrypt FIVE HD - that doesn't mean you need a Sky subscription just and active card. It's rather like the soon to be launched BT Sports which will use the Sky Viewing Card to authorise your subscription without any need to have a Sky/BSkyB account - thats because ownership of the Sky Viewing Card and the associated database of users is held by a third party and not directly by Sky. If you remember the early days of BBC on satellite the Beeb also had its own method of adding authenticated users to existing Sky Viewing Cards without using (actually positively avoiding) Skys Call Centres.
The pay TV system used by Sky (including the viewing card) is licensed from NDS who are now part of Cisco. AFAIK Sky administer their own viewing database though they may allow other companies limited access to it for enabling and disabling access to third party channels.