27 April 2007

BBC and ITV to launch Freesat

Less than an hour after the BBC Trust approved plans for the BBC to launch a digital satellite equivalent of Freeview, the Corporation and ITV have announced plans to launch Freesat by Spring 2008. The two broadcasters have been working behind-the-scenes for months with box manufacturers to ensure the technology is in place: there will be a choice of SD and HD boxes, and around 300 television and radio channels are expected to be available. Satellite coverage is around 98%, compared to 75% DTT coverage, so the new platform is designed to offer free digital television to those currently unable to get Freeview.

24 April 2007

BBC invent HD bandwidth transmission system

The BBC’s Research and Development team have invented a new transmission method for delivering twice the bandwidth that can currently be delivered via each DTT frequency. In very over-simplified terms, 2 signals are sent on the same frequency in slightly different directions and at slightly different times. Don’t expect HD just yet, though: the “spatially multiplexing” requires new transmitters to be built and you’ll need a new aerial and box. Still, sounds exciting, doesn’t it.

19 April 2007

Freeview overtakes Sky in digital homes

More people in the UK now watch digital television via Freeview than through Sky satellite, according to the latest figures. 11 million homes now have access to DTT, with 8.2 million relying exclusively on Freeview for access to digital television.

Freeview Playback launched

Freeview have officially unveiled the Freeview Playback brand of digital television recorders today, allowing customers to replace their existing analogue recorders which will become virtually obsolete after switchover. Playback-stickered machines will be available in the shops from next month, retailing at around £130.

17 April 2007

Thomas Cook TV launches on Freeview

Thomas Cook TV has launched on Freeview channel 41. A placeholder for the channel appeared this afternoon, which will broadcast between 19:00 and 22:00 daily (although broadcasts did not begin until around 21:00). The placeholder for TCM has been removed from channel 25, but no other channel changes have occurred.

14 April 2007

Thomas Cook TV to launch on Freeview

Thomas Cook TV plan to launch on Freeview on April 17, in place of TCM (Top Up TV) between 19:00 and 22:00 daily. It is assumed the remaining hours vacated by TCM will be used for Anytime programming. According to a company e-mail, there will also be an EPG re-shuffle to accommodate the recent Top Up TV line-up changes.

06 April 2007

Border region switchover details revealed

Ofcom has published the first edition of the Digital Switchover Transmitter Details document for the Border region. It details the frequencies to be used by the six post-switchover multiplexes, which will be re-named PSB (Public Service Broadcasters) 1-3 and COM (Commercial broadcasters) 4-6 from the existing alphanumeric system.

03 April 2007

TCM channel leaves Top Up TV on April 16

Turner Classic Movies will only be available on Top Up TV Anytime (and no longer broadcast as a linear channel) from April 16. The original Top Up TV service, now no longer available to new subscribers and reduced to £4.99/month for existing customers, will then be reduced to 2½ hours of Eurosport, 3 hours of UKTV Style, and 9 hours of UKTV Gold per day.

National Grid Wireless bought by Arqiva

National Grid Wireless (the owner of two Freeview multiplexes and the company responsible for the distribution of the BBC’s Freeview and radio services) has agreed to sell its business to Arqiva (the company that broadcasts multiplexes A and 2) for £2.5 billion. Arqiva bought their existing transmission sites from NTL for £1.27 billion back in 2004.

02 April 2007

Teletext Cars closed?

Teletext Cars (channel 102) appears to have closed on Freeview, carrying nothing but a message directing viewers to their website. The move could be a capacity-saving move in preparation for the Teletext Extra service set to be launching soon.

Virgin Media launch DTT offering

Virgin Media have launched a range of new services to customers living outside cabled areas using a Freeview box to provide the television element of their packages. The Virgin-branded box is free to customers taking 8Meg broadband and the “Talk Anytime” package, and £40 to those taking the broadband service alone. Customers may purchase up to five additional set-top boxes.