Can you escape from your pay TV package?

The dilemma of TV subscriptions is never more palpable than at Christmas. Without the movies and classic comedy, how would you have made it through the festive period without coming to blows with your distant relatives (who are never quite distant enough at this time of year)? At the same time the full horror of our new year finances means we're forced to look at cutting back, and the huge lump sum we spend on entertainment every month looks like it has to go.

In fact one in five people want to escape from their pay-TV contract this January. So what can you do about it?

Research by Freesat and psychologist Dr Brian Young has discovered that one in five Brits want to get out of their pay TV subscription service, and will be cutting back considerably in January. It's hardly surprising when you consider that over five years current subscription prices online cost £1,249 for Sky and £1,067.20 for Virgin.

Why we stay with pay-TV
Dr Young from Exeter University comments: "Many people do want to get out of their contracts but never get round to it and some marketing material is deliberately designed to encourage this inertia. What's more, consumer psychology suggests that transforming intention into behaviour is a real problem for some people".

The study also suggests that economic gloom is encouraging around a quarter of us to stay in and watch up to 50% more TV. Bad news in the real world, such as uncertainty over VAT rises and other austerity measures, has also influenced what we are watching, with half of polled admitting to using TV as a means of escaping from reality.

While we Brits may be watching more TV than before and even changing our viewing habits, we are finally waking up to channel wastage – channels paid for on subscription but not watched by the viewer. This coincides with BARB data which shows that approximately 60% of people in Sky homes only watch free TV channels.

What can you do?
For those not signed up to a package, the answer is to steer clear. Out of those people currently not paying a TV subscription, over half of those polled (61%) admit to being increasingly wary of getting tied into pay TV contracts, stating that pay TV is six times less important to them than a broadband connection.

For those who are signed up, there is no easy way out within the first year. You can contact them and plead special circumstances, but they are under no obligation to let you go. If you have been signed up for at least 11 months, you can cancel, and you will be free after a 31 day notice period online, by post or by letter.

The email address is You will need to include details of your name, address, account number, viewing card number and password. You should receive a response fairly quickly, so if you don't, make sure you chase this up.

To cancel by post, send the same details to Sky Subscribers Services Limited, Customer Care Department, PO Box 99, Kirton Campus, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 7PR. Make sure you clearly date the letter. You notice period will start on the date they acknowledge your letter - but it will help to have a date on your letter if there are any problems further down the line.

You can cancel by phone on 08442 41 41 41 from the UK or 0818 719 819 from the Republic of Ireland. However, these are expensive numbers and there are reports that calls can take anything up to an hour.

Once you have cancelled you can sign up for freesat (just over £100 but then free for life) or start talking to your nearest and dearest instead.

So what do you think? Will you be hanging onto your channels or cutting the cost? let us know in the comments.

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