29 October 2007

Digital UK confirm date for Selkirk switchover

Digital UK, the group overseeing the UK’s switch to digital television, has confirmed the next set of transmitters will begin the switchover process on November 6, 2008. On that day, the Selkirk transmitter and all it’s associated relay transmitters will stop broadcasting BBC Two on analogue, replacing it with a digital multiplex.

19 October 2007

Ofcom to push ahead with HD “migration” plan

Media regulator Ofcom will next month unveil a controversial plan to convert Freeview broadcasts from their existing transmission format to another, more efficient method. The change, from the DVB-T MPEG2 standard (in use in the UK since the launch of ONdigital) to the new DVB-T2 MPEG4 system, will require viewers to buy new set-top boxes in order to continue receiving services. The plan follows Ofcom’s insistence that there is no need to free up more capacity for the launch of additional SD and HD services, thus enabling them to auction-off more frequencies to the highest bidders.

Gems TV to launch on Freeview?

Second-rate, shoe-string-budget satellite shopping channel Gems TV appears to have secured some capacity to broadcast on Freeview, according to the Ofcom website and correspondence with the station. It is unclear if the station will broadcast in the early evening slot (previously occupied by Thomas Cook TV); during the day in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland (ABC1’s old haunt); or just during the downtime of an existing Freeview channel.

17 October 2007

Britain’s digital switchover begins

The first step in the UK’s switch from analogue to digital television began in the early hours of this morning in Whitehaven and Copeland. Analogue transmissions of BBC Two ceased at 02:00, and replaced with those of ITV1, in turn replaced by a digital multiplex containing BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, CBBC and BBC News 24 by 03:00. Five is also available on a separate, bespoke multiplex. On November 14, all analogue transmissions will cease, and the area will become the first “digital-only” region of the UK. The remainder of the Border television region will switch in November next year; digital switchover is scheduled to be completed nationwide by 2012.

16 October 2007

Switchover bulletin: 1 day to go

Switchover begins at 03:00 tomorrow morning. Read about how the residents of Whitehaven and Copeland (and many of the switch’s co-ordinators) are bracing themselves for the change here, find out exactly what will happen in the wee small hours here, and follow a live blog from The Guardian’s John Plunkett here. Until tomorrow, then...

15 October 2007

Switchover bulletin: 2 days to go

With just two days until the switchover begins in Whitehaven and Copeland, Digital UK has revealed that up to 20% of households – around 5,000 – still haven’t bought the necessary equipment to receive digital television channels. The local branch of Curry’s has over 2,000 Freeview boxes in stock… they’re obviously expecting a last-minute rush! Meanwhile, Freeview have published a collection of four essays, entitled Notes from the digital sofa, to mark switchover’s arrival this week. Notable points include the controller of BBC News 24 expressing his sadness at Sky’s ambitions to remove Sky News from Freeview; Five’s chief executive’s worries about television’s “lost generation”; and ITV chairman Michael Grade’s calls for Freeview spectrum to be freed up for HD services.

Dave launches on Freeview

Dave (the new name for UKTV G2) has launched on Freeview. At around 06:00 this morning, UKTV History moved to its new home on multiplex D, where it will broadcast from between 07:00 and 18:00 every day. Dave replaced History on multiplex C, and began broadcasting on UKTV Bright Ideas’ old channel number (19) shortly after 07:00. The channel will broadcast from 07:00 to 03:00, 7 days a week. Viewers may need to re-scan their receivers in order to watch both channels.

14 October 2007

UKTV Bright Ideas ceases broadcasting

UKTV Bright Ideas has closed on all digital platforms. Specially designed for Freeview, the channel was designed as a showcase for programming on UKTV’s lifestyle channels available via subscription. It will be replaced tomorrow on Freeview channel 19 by Dave, the new name for UKTV G2. UK Bright Ideas launched on January 15, 2003.

10 October 2007

Whitehaven: one week to switchover

The digital switchover begins in just seven days time in the town of Whitehaven and the surrounding Copeland region: by this time next week, analogue transmissions of BBC Two will have been replaced by a digital multiplex. Alan Cleaver, deputy editor of the Whitehaven News, writes about the forthcoming switch in this article from The Guardian.

04 October 2007

Ofcom launches Picnic consultation

Ofcom, the media regulator, has launched a public consultation on Sky’s plans to launch a subscription service on DTT. The Picnic service would replace Sky’s existing channels on Freeview (Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News) with Sky Sports 1, and two streams of timesharing channels including programmes from Sky One and Sky Movies. Ofcom are considering 3 options: whether to approve the plans; whether to approve but on certain conditions; or whether to reject the proposal. Members of the public can respond to the consultation – and deeteetee encourages you to do so! – by visiting the Ofcom website here.

Radio Music Shop ceases broadcasting

Radio Music Shop has ceased broadcasting on Freeview. Launched in December 2006, available in England and Wales only, the station allowed listeners to buy playlisted artists’ albums by visiting their website or over the phone. The channel is now broadcasting a continuous tone (not available from the shops).

03 October 2007

BBC Radio stations swap multiplexes

BBC Radio stations 1 to 4 moved from multiplex A to multiplex B this morning. Unless their receiver has automatically detected the change, viewers will have to perform a re-scan in order to continue listening to the stations via Freeview. The move, which has not had a detrimental effect on the stations’ bit-rates, means there is only one BBC Freeview service not carried on a BBC multiplex – namely, BBC World Service.

02 October 2007

Teachers’ TV moves to new one-hour slot

Later than originally expected, Teachers’ TV have now moved to their new broadcasting slot of 16:00 to 17:00. The move means the channel for those in the education industry now only has one hour a day on Freeview, compared to six hours when it launched and 24 hours on other digital platforms. UKTV Gold now starts at 17:00 (rather than 16:00) in the evenings to allow for the change.

01 October 2007

Virgin 1 launches on Freeview

Virgin 1, the new flagship channel from Virgin Media Television, has launched on Freeview and other digital platforms. Replacing FTN on channel 20, the channel will broadcast between 18:00 and 06:00 every day, showing a mix of newly commissioned, imported and user-generated programming alongside content from Virgin Media subscription channels such as Living and Bravo.

Sky reveals “Picnic”, pay-DTT offering proposal

Sky has unveiled its proposals for a pay-television service on DTT. Called Picnic, the service would offer three streams showing programming from Sky Sports, Sky Movies, Sky One, a children’s channel and a factual channel on a timesharing basis (similar to Top Up TV). This service would replace the broadcaster’s existing Freeview channels. Sky would provide set-top boxes, manufactured by Sagem initially, which were capable of receiving both MPEG-2 (the system currently used to broadcast channels) and MPEG-4 transmissions, with a view to launching a fourth stream – 24-hour Sky News – in the new format if it is approved by the regulator Ofcom. Sky have chosen today to make the announcement to steal away attention from Virgin Media, who launch their new flagship channel Virgin 1 on Freeview tonight.

FTN ceases broadcasting

FTN has ceased broadcasting on Freeview and other digital platforms. The channel was launched shortly after the launch of Freeview itself, and was designed to be a “shop window” for subscription channels within the Flextech Television Network – channels such as Living, Bravo and Challenge – now called Virgin Media Television. It will be replaced tonight at 21:00 by new channel Virgin 1.