Irish television viewers can save themselves hundreds of euro a year by purchasing 'free-view' satellite systems which can pick up UK stations.

Unlike illegal 'dodgy' boxes which decode pay-TVstations, the satellite decoding systems are able to pick up scores of channels which are transmitted subscription-free in the UK.

A number of Irish-based companies such as are offering to install the satellite dishes for once-off fees of just under €300.

Self-installation satellite kits are also available in supermarkets and electronics stores here for as little as €100.

Once installed, they allow the owner access to more than 140 channels, including ITV 1, 2, 3 and 4; BBC 1, 2, 3 and 4, Channel 5, Channel 4, E4, BBC News and Film Four.

Unlike services offered by the major operators here, UPC and Sky, there are no additional monthly fees for access to these programmes.

A spokesman for the UK-based Freesat digital television service, which transmits the services via satellite and is operated by the BBC and ITV, declined to say whether it plans to limit the availability of its content in the Republic.

However, he acknowledged that due to the nature of free-to-air broadcasting "there is potential for UK broadcasts to be picked up in Ireland".

A spokesman for the Commission for Communications Regulation said that due to the way the signal is configured, "people are free to pick it up" here. This was not against the law, he said.

Last week, the Sunday Tribune revealed that new security arrangements which cable provider UPC has put in place to combat illegal decoding boxes means they are likely to become redundant.

However, a spokeswoman for UPC confirmed that these decoders are "nothing to do with" the freeview versions, adding that the availability of their content here was an issue for the UK-based providers such as Freesat.