Real Digital

Real Digital TV Limited
Headquarters London, England, United Kingdom
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Dmitry Pasechnik (CEO)
Products Direct broadcast satellite

Real Digital is the brand name for a digital satellite television and radio service in the United Kingdom which was transmitted from SES S.A.'s Astra satellites located at 28.2° east (Astra 2A/2B/2D/1N) and Eutelsat's 28A satellite at 28.5°E. Real Digital had planned to launch in Ireland.[1] The service ceased transmitting on 31 March 2012 to "undergo essential maintenance work", and promised to return in approximately seven days.[2] On 26 April 2013, David Henry informed The Guardian that the service intended to launch in the autumn.[3]As of January 2015, the service has still not launched.

Real Digital's main competitors were Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.[4][5]


Real Digital only offered free-to-air channels which have been available on other platforms for several years. They had intended to offer pay television packages by spring 2012 which would have included Sky Sports 1 and 2 and a high definition version of Blackbelt TV.[5][6] It was also planned that subscription packages were to be available on a month-by-month basis, without a contract or minimum subscription period. Additionally, it was proposed that pay-per-view services would be made available. Support for the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player video on demand services had also been announced.[5][7]

Technical information

The service made use of the same fleet of satellites as Freesat and Sky, Astra 28.2°E and Eutelsat 28A. This meant that any satellite dish which was positioned to receive these services was capable of receiving Real Digital, with either an additional suitable receiver or by simply swapping an old Freesat/Sky set top box with a REAL Digital STB. Providing the LNB (low-noise block downconverter) has sufficient outputs, the one dish was able to receive multiple services. For their proposed pay TV offering, Real Digital intended to use a Conax conditional access system.[8]

Real Digital offered two kinds of set-top boxes, one with a single tuner and the other with a dual tuner PVR, which were manufactured by Fortec Star and Digital Stream.[9]



Before launch, the company had missed many promised launch dates.[4][10] The service eventually began broadcasting on 1 October 2011.[11]

Test boxes were received by reviewers and a small number of beta-testers in December 2011.[12] As of April 2014 production boxes still have not reached any high street retail stores, despite an agreement being announced with Maplin Electronics,[13] although they had been carried by select specialist online retailers.

While a number of set top boxes had been delivered to both testers and reviewers the first manufacturer Fortec Star was both late at delivering and incomplete software led to Maplin Electronics cancelling orders with Fortec Star. A number of live demonstrations to retailers showed the REAL Digital EPG and TV channel lists running and the GUI was widely praised.

Suspension of service

On 31 March 2012 at midnight, the lease of the transponder on Eutelsat's Eutelsat 28A satellite ran out. The transponder was subsequently cleared, removing the EPG broadcast stream. Real Digital claim to be undergoing essential maintenance work, with the signal going offline for approximately 7 days.[2] The move left the Real Digital beta-testers with nothing more than the DVB-S standard now and next programme information.

As of November 2012, the stream has not returned and on 11 April 2012 Real Digital claimed on Facebook that work had halted due to the Easter break.[14] Another Facebook post on 2 May 2012, denied that the service had closed but no further updates would be provided until there was definite news.[15] On 29 May 2012, Real Digital deleted their Facebook page and removed all links to it from their website.

As of April 2014, the company is still listed as active by Companies House.[16]

On 5 December 2012 Real Digital submitted a communication to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, in which Real Digital stated that it hoped to have a "soft launch" of a pay TV service in the first quarter of 2013,[17] however this failed to occur. On 26 April 2013, David Henry informed The Guardian that the service intends to launch in the autumn,[3] but this did not happen.


The company was founded by former Rapture TV boss David Henry and Information TV boss Fred Perkins.[6] On 11 November 2011, David Henry was disqualified from acting as a company director after failing to ensure that one of his former companies paid the appropriate amount of tax.[18] David Henry had been acting as managing director of Real Digital until he resigned on 21 February 2012 from the company.[19] As of 14 October 2013, Frederick J. Perkins has become an inactive company director for Real Digital, Wouter V. Ruth is now the only active acting company director and secretary.[20]

Over a period of almost 2 years (2014-2016) REAL Digital saw a Russian-based company called General Satellite Group hold a majority of the voting shares in REAL Digital TV Limited. Recent (2016) Companies House filings record that General Satellite Group no longer hold any shares in the company. REAL Digital has moved its registered address to a business unit.

Dmitry Pasechnik is no longer the CEO of REAL Digital TV Limited he was placed on the board by his employer General Satellite Group while they held voting shares in the company.

See also


  1. "This is the real deal". Real Digital. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Maintenance". Real Digital. 31 March 2012.
  3. 1 2 "BT wins right to take Sky Sports price ruling to court of appeal". The Guardian. 26 April 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Real Digital: The new alternative to Freesat". Pocket-lint. 16 June 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 "Freesat and Sky rival Real Digital set for UK launch". 20 October 2011.
  6. 1 2 "Real Digital eyes Sky Sports launch offer". Digital Spy. 27 October 2011.
  7. "Sneak Peek". Real Digital. 12 September 2011.
  8. "Conax and Real Digital". Real Digital. 30 March 2011.
  9. "First Production run finished!". Real Digital. 21 November 2011.
  10. "Competition tribunal to judge on REAL DTH alternative to Sky Sports". Rapid TV News. 27 October 2010.
  11. "Need to replace my...". Facebook. 24 January 2012.
  12. "Real Digital PVR- £300". What Satellite and Digital TV. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  13. "Pre-order now!". Real Digital. August 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  14. "Looks like it's...". Facebook. 11 April 2012.
  15. "The wiki says you...". Facebook. 2 May 2012.
  16. "REAL DIGITAL TV LIMITED 05982572". Companies House. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  17. "Ruling (Consequential matters)" (PDF). Competition Appeal Tribunal. 27 February 2013.
  18. "Former director of Broadcasting company disqualified over VAT refund". The Insolvency Service. 21 December 2011.
  19. "Termination of appointment of director". OpenCorporates. 21 February 2012.
  20. "REAL DIGITAL TV LIMITED". OpenCorporates. 14 October 2013.
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