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Virgin Free TV: It'll cost you

Virgin unleashes its Virgin Free TV, which isn't free at all because you have to sign up for twelve months of its broadband service first

If you can't get, or don't want, full cable TV, Virgin Media would still like to get some money off you. Surely that's the dream of every company, isn't it? So how does Virgin persuade people to hand over money without getting anything in return? Offer them something 'free' that actually turns out to cost quite a lot of money, of course. Enter Virgin Free TV.

The service consists of a pretty standard Freeview receiver, which you get for 'free' when you sign up for the £20-a-month Virgin broadband service --which includes free UK landline phone calls. On the plus side, the box is pretty small, with Virgin claiming it's about the same size as a VHS cassette. A what, granddad?

The package also includes what Virgin generously describes as a "stylish remote control". Interestingly it also includes a remote extender, so you can tuck the box away out of sight and still change the channel and whatnot. That's actually a pretty neat feature, and one that will appeal to people concerned about the amount of stuff appearing under their television.

If you're signing up to Virgin Broadband you'll also need to sign a 12-month contract. So by Crave's calculation that's a total commitment of £240 before you get your 'free' box. If you were looking for a new broadband supplier anyway, then this may well appeal to you. If you have broadband you're happy with, may we suggest that your money might be better spent buying a standard Freeview reciever for £20 or so from a supermarket?  

If you aren't interested in the broadband service but this diminutive Freeview receiver appeals, you'll be pleased to know you can buy one for £40. But don't expect it to be much different to any other Freeview receiver on the market. -IM

Update: A previously published version of this story neglected to mention the free UK landline calls included in the deal, and it has also come to our attention that Virgin does not charge a connection fee. We regret the error.