31 January 2008

UKTV channels switch to widescreen

UKTV began broadcasting widescreen programming on its channels this morning. Although many widescreen programmes are still only available in 4:3 “letterbox” mode, the range of true 16:9 programming is set to increase over the next few months. Advertisement breaks and trailers are fully widescreen. DTT viewers with Freeview and Top Up TV will notice the changes on Dave and UKTVs History, Gold, Style and Food.

Switchover assistance: only 1 in 3 ask for help

Only one-third of Whitehaven and Copeland residents eligible for financial assistance with the digital switchover applied for help, it has been revealed. If such low take-up is replicated across the country, the final cost (being funded by the BBC) could be far less than the budgeted £600million: this could be returned as a licence fee rebate.

28 January 2008

ITV4 to go 24 hours, CITV to move multiplexes

As deeteetee.co.uk reported earlier last week, ITV4 will begin broadcasting 24 hours a day from February 6. The CITV Channel is advising viewers that they will need to retune on the 5th in order to continue watching, suggesting that the channel will be moving into ABC1’s old slot on multiplex A (owned by ITV). This space is only available outside Wales, however, so the kids channel could be replacing Bid TV in the principality. Possibly.

BBC Gaelic service will not launch on Freeview

The BBC Trust has given the BBC the green light to launch the new Gaelic-language service, but the corporation will not be allowed to launch it on Freeview because the cost – £4million for a slot in Scotland alone – is too high. The decision will be reviewed in 2010, when the service has been running for a while and Scotland approaches switchover.

Old-spec DTT boxes to lose services from March

An announcement on the Freeview website has revealed that pre-Freeview specification receivers will no longer be able to receive some services from the Sutton Coldfield transmitter from March. DTT receivers launched before the current set of standards for boxes was released (i.e. before the launch of Freeview) including models by Daewoo, Labgear and Triax, do not support newer transmission formats.

27 January 2008

S4C want national Freeview slot

Welsh-language broadcaster S4C is asking for the necessary capacity to allow it to broadcast nationwide on Freeview after switchover. The broadcaster, which claims 122,000 people outside the Principality currently watch S4C, is also still considering plans to launch a children’s channel (although it’s even less likely that this would make it onto DTT in the rest of the UK).

26 January 2008

ITV4 to broadcast 24/7

According to listings issued by the Radio Times website, ITV4 will begin broadcasting a 24-hour schedule from February 6. ITV4 currently timeshares with the CITV channel on all digital platforms, however the children’s channel is showing a full 12-hour schedule for the day, too. ITV have one spare stream on Freeview, currently used for ITV2+1 which could be used to carry both services on DTT.

24 January 2008

Confirmed: UKTV to broadcast in widescreen

UKTV have confirmed that they will begin broadcasting widescreen programming in widescreen from January 31. A statement on the broadcaster’s website reassures viewers that programming shot in 4:3 will not be stretched or cropped (which is an example that all broadcasters should follow, so let’s hope they’re not lying).

22 January 2008

Currys, PC World stop selling analogue TVs

Currys and PC World will no longer sell analogue television sets and DVD recorders without digital tuners when their current stocks run out, in favour of digital equipment. Which is nice.

21 January 2008

Top Up TV launch 250GB Anytime box

Top Up TV have released a higher-capacity version of their Anytime personal video recorder (PVR). The new model features a 250GB hard drive, and is available for £130. With a subscription, the Anytime box allows customers to receive programming from a wide range of the most popular digital television channels, but can also be used as a ’standard’ Freeview PVR. The original 160GB box is still available for £100.

Dave begins widescreen testing

UKTV channel Dave began broadcasting selected programming in widescreen over the weekend. The tests are in preparation for the network’s anticipated switch to broadcasting in 16:9 on January 31.

19 January 2008

Copeland Digital Group: Switchover a success

Last autumn’s digital switchover in Copeland was a success, according to a group of local organisations and services, the Copeland Digital Group. According to the results of their survey, practically all households managed to convert at least one of their sets to digital before analogue signals were switched off, and 95% of “second sets” were digital by mid-December. 60% of conversions were to Freeview.

The Hits to carry 4Music programming

The Hits is to broadcast a season of programming from Channel 4 from March. The announcement would appear to disprove rumours suggesting that Channel 4 – who have a 50% stake in The Hits’ owners, Box TV – would re-brand the channel under the 4Music name.

16 January 2008

BT Vision sign up Disney, ABC content

Broadband on-demand service BT Vision has signed a deal with Disney/ABC to carry its programming. The deal means Vision customers can choose to subscribe to, or pay-per-view, shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty.

15 January 2008

Oneword ceases broadcasting

Speech radio station Oneword has ceased broadcasting on Freeview. Having been removed from DAB on Saturday, audio was cut on DTT at lunchtime yesterday. Oneword broadcast on multiplex D; there is no indication yet as to whether a replacement station will be found.

14 January 2008

Hidden testcard discovered on BBCi

Some clever sort on the Digital Spy forum has discovered a secret testcard hidden within BBCi on Freeview channel 105. It works on most modern boxes, so to see it for yourself: tune to channel 105 and press yellow when the BBCi background appears. Tune to a different channel, then turn back to 105 and press green when the BBCi background appears. The word “Secret” should appear in the corner. Wait for the status page to appear, then enter 3 3 5 8 2 red green yellow blue using your remote control. In a few seconds, Testcard W will appear!

10 January 2008

Oneword to close on Monday

Oneword will cease broadcasting on all platforms, including Freeview, on Monday 14. The station has been broadcasting a loop of repeats since late last year after its owners withdrew funding from the project. The station, once seen as the commercial rival to BBC Radio 4 and BBC 7, simply couldn’t compete against the Beeb’s better resources. Meanwhile, on DAB, Core, the radio station once seen as the commercial rival to BBC Radio 1, has confirmed that it will close tomorrow, Friday 11.

03 January 2008

Oneword on the verge of closure

This story was initially published under the headline "Bulletin: Oneword, two rumours"
Radio station Oneword (Freeview channel 717) looks certain to close, following the dismissal of its six staff and the suspension of its regular schedule. The station, owned by Channel 4 and UBC Media (both have withdrawn funding), is currently playing a selection of its best programming on a loop and closed its website earlier this week.

04/01/2007 10:00 - Channel 4 have sold their 51% stake in the station back to UBC for the nominal fee of £1. It would appear that the station is only being kept on-air because the search for a suitable replacement on the national DAB multiplex failed.

Bulletin: January rumours

This story was initially published under the headline "Bulletin: Oneword, two rumours"
Two unconfirmed changes affecting Freeview channels are set to happen in the next few weeks: UKTV and Virgin Media Television channels will reportedly switch to widescreen broadcasts on the 31st, whilst it was suggested some time ago that Channel 4 would be re-branding The Hits sometime this month.